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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Trade Deficit increased in March to $51.8 Billion

by Calculated Risk on 5/10/2012 09:05:00 AM

The Department of Commerce reported:

[T]otal March exports of $186.8 billion and imports of $238.6 billion resulted in a goods and services deficit of $51.8 billion, up from $45.4 billion in February, revised. March exports were $5.3 billion more than February exports of $181.5 billion. March imports were $11.7 billion more than February imports of $226.9 billion.
The trade deficit was above the consensus forecast of $49.5 billion.

The first graph shows the monthly U.S. exports and imports in dollars through March 2012.

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

Exports increased in March, and are at record levels. Imports increased even more. Exports are 13% above the pre-recession peak and up 7% compared to March 2011; imports are 3% above the pre-recession peak, and up about 8% compared to March 2011.

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

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 averaged $107.95 per barrel in March, up from $103.63 in February. Import oil prices were probably a little higher in April too, but will probably decline in May. The increase in imports was a combination of more petroleum imports and more imports from China.

Exports to the euro area were $18.1 billion in March, up from $17.6 billion in March 2011, so the euro area recession is still not a huge drag on US exports.