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US Trade Deficit Worse Than Expected As Auto Exports Tumble

As Chinese exports crashed in January (and imports were extremely weak), one could be forgiven for expecting the US trade deficit to be more extreme than the tumble it experienced in December... but no. The US Trade Deficit printed $41.8bn, slightly worse than the $41.1bn expectation but 'better' than the adjusted $45.6 billion. Imports dropped 3.9% in January and Exports fell 2.9% but YoY imports fell 0.17% and exports fell 1.75% - the last time both fell YoY was November 2008. This is the 2nd month in a row of worse than expected deficits (and 4th of last 5). The shift is led by big drops in Food & Beverage (-9.1%) and Auto (-7.0%) exports and an 11.3% plunge in Industrial Supplies imports.

 

4th of last 5 month bigger than expected trade deficit...

 

As BEA notes:

Exports
Exports of goods and services decreased $1.5 billion in December to $194.9 billion, reflecting a decrease in exports of goods. Exports of services increased.

  • The decrease in exports of goods was more than accounted for by a decrease in industrial supplies and materials. An increase in capital goods was partly offsetting.
  • The increase in exports of services reflected increases in transport, which includes freight and port services and passenger fares, in financial services, and in travel (for all purposes including education).

Imports
Imports of goods and services increased $5.3 billion in December to $241.4 billion, mostly reflecting an increase in imports of goods. Imports of services also increased.

  • The increase in imports of goods mostly reflected increases in industrial supplies and materials and in automotive vehicles, parts, and engines.
  • The increase in imports of services mostly reflected increases in transport and in travel (for all purposes including education).

Goods by geographic area (seasonally adjusted, Census basis)

  • The goods deficit with Canada increased from $1.6 billion in November (revised) to $3.3 billion in December. Exports decreased $0.8 billion to $25.8 billion and imports increased $0.9 billion to $29.0 billion.
  • The goods surplus with South and Central America decreased from $4.3 billion in November to $2.6 billion in December. Exports decreased $0.7 billion to $14.8 billion and imports increased $1.0 billion to $12.2 billion.
  • The goods deficit with Germany decreased from $6.3 billion in November to $5.6 billion in December. Exports increased $0.1 billion to $3.9 billion and imports decreased $0.6 billion to $9.6 billion

*  *  *

And finally, given the epic collapse in Chinese data, it seems odd that The BEA reports, the deficit with China increased $2.7 billion to $83.4 billion in the fourth quarter. Exports increased $3.5 billion to $43.8 billion and imports increased $6.2 billion to $127.2 billion.

Oddly it appears the US data is adjusting back to Chinese data...