Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Trade Deficit at $48.5 Billion in January

by Bill McBride on 3/07/2017 08:47:00 AM

From the Department of Commerce reported:

The U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, through the Department of Commerce, announced today that the goods and services deficit was $48.5 billion in January, up $4.2 billion from $44.3 billion in December, revised. January exports were $192.1 billion, $1.1 billion more than December exports. January imports were $240.6 billion, $5.3 billion more than December imports.
The trade deficit was at the consensus forecast.

The first graph shows the monthly U.S. exports and imports in dollars through January 2017.

U.S. Trade Exports Imports Click on graph for larger image.

Imports and exports increased in January.

Exports are 16% above the pre-recession peak and up 7% compared to January 2016; imports are 4% above the pre-recession peak, and up 8% compared to January 2016. 

Clearly trade is picking up.

The second graph shows the U.S. trade deficit, with and without petroleum.

U.S. Trade Deficit The blue line is the total deficit, and the black line is the petroleum deficit, and the red line is the trade deficit ex-petroleum products.

Oil imports averaged $43.94 in January, up from $41.45 in December, and up from $32.06 in January 2016.  The petroleum deficit has generally been declining and is the major reason the overall deficit has mostly moved sideways since early 2012.

The trade deficit with China increased to $31.3 billion in January, from $28.9 billion in January 2016. The increase this year was probably due to the timing of the Chinese New Year (the deficit will probably be smaller in February).  In general the deficit with China has generally been declining.