Thursday, May 04, 2017

Trade Deficit declines slightly to $43.7 Billion in March

by Bill McBride on 5/04/2017 08:51:00 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 $43.7 billion in March, down $0.1 billion from $43.8 billion in February, revised. March exports were $191.0 billion, $1.7 billion less than February exports. March imports were $234.7 billion, $1.7 billion less than February imports.
The first graph shows the monthly U.S. exports and imports in dollars through March 2017.

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

Imports and exports decreased in March.

Exports are 15% above the pre-recession peak and up 9% compared to March 2016; imports are 1% above the pre-recession peak, and up 7% compared to March 2016.

In general, trade has been picking up, but has declined slightly the last two months.

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 $46.26 in March, up from $45.25 in February, and up from $27.68 in March 2016.  The petroleum deficit had been declining for years - and is the major reason the overall deficit has mostly moved sideways since early 2012.  However, recently, the petroleum deficit has been increasing.

The trade deficit with China increased to $24.6 billion in March, from $20.9 billion in March 2016. Some of the increase this year was probably due to the timing of the Chinese New Year.  In general the deficit with China has been declining.