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International Trade:  Widening Trend

June 2, 2017
Bottom Line: The trade deficit widened modestly in April with exports falling modestly and imports rising modestly. On a trend basis, the trade deficit had been holding steady through late '14 until mid-'16 but has been widening since. The April level for real trade balance for goods is modestly above its Q1 levels, suggesting second quarter GDP started with a negative contribution from trade.

The International Trade Deficit WIDENED by $2.3 billion to $47.6 billion in April, compared with market expectations for an decline to a $46.1 billion deficit.

For the first 4 months of the year, the trade deficit has averaged $46.6 billion, moderately above from the average of $41.1 billion for the same period in 2016.

Exports FELL by 0.3% to $191.0 billion after a decline of 0.1% in the prior month. The declines in consumer goods and motor vehicles and parts were partially offset by increases in food, feed, and beverages and industrial supplies and materials. Export growth is now 5.0% ABOVE their year ago level.

Imports ROSE by 0.8% to $238.6 billion after an increase of 0.1% in the prior month. The declines in industrial supplies and materials and motor vehicles and parts were more offset by increases in consumer goods and capital goods. In April, oil imports decreased. 2017 year-to-date levels are now moderately below the 2016 year-to-date oil imports. Imports are now 8.3% ABOVE their year ago level.