2012 Economic Calendar
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International Trade
Released On 4/12/2012 8:30:00 AM For Feb, 2012
PriorPrior RevisedConsensusConsensus RangeActual
Trade Balance Level$-52.6 B$-52.5 B$-51.7 B$-54.5 B to $-48.5 B$-46.0 B

Highlights
The U.S. trade gap unexpectedly shrank in February to $46.0 billion from $52.5billion in January (originally $52.6 billion). The market median forecast was for a differential of $51.7 billion. Exports nudged up 0.1 percent after gaining 1.5 percent in January. But imports dropped 2.7 percent in February, following a 2.1 percent boost the month before.

The narrowing in the trade gap was led by the non-petroleum goods deficit which shrank to $32.9 billion from $36.8 billion in January. The petroleum goods gap also narrowed-to $27.8 billion from $29.6 billion. The services surplus expanded to $15.4 billion from $14.8 billion.

On a not seasonally adjusted basis, the February figures show surpluses, in billions of dollars, in part with Hong Kong $3.1 ($2.1 for January), Australia $1.7 ($1.6), and Singapore $0.7 ($0.8). Deficits were recorded, in billions of dollars, with China $19.4 ($26.0), Japan $7.0 ($6.2), OPEC $6.4 ($10.0), European Union $5.9 ($8.5), Mexico $5.8 ($4.2), Germany $3.6 ($4.1), and Canada $2.8 ($4.9).

Goods exports were led by consumer goods. The import numbers actually are a little disconcerting. The drop was led by large decline in imports of consumer goods, followed by industrial supplies. The decline in consumer goods may indicate that businesses are less confident about future demand.

Recent History Of This Indicator
The U.S. international trade gap expanded in January to $52.6 billion from $50.4 billion in December. Exports advanced 1.4 percent after rebounding 0.4 percent in December. But imports grew a sharp 2.1 percent in January, following a 1.6 percent increase the prior month. The worsening in the trade gap was led by the petroleum goods deficit which widened to $29.7 billion from $27.2 billion in December. The nonpetroleum goods gap, however, was little changed at $36.8 billion from $36.7 billion the month before. The services surplus improved to $14.9 billion from $14.6 billion. Services exports hit an all-time high at $52.2 billion for the month.

Definition
International trade is composed of merchandise (tangible goods) and services. It is available nationally by export, import and trade balance. Merchandise trade is available by export, import and trade balance for six principal end-use commodity categories and for more than one hundred principal Standard International Trade Classification (SITC) system commodity groupings. Data are also available for 36 countries and geographic regions. Detailed information is reported on oil and motor vehicle imports. Services trade is available by export, import and trade balance for seven principal end-use categories.  Why Investors Care
 
[Chart]
Exports grow when foreign economies are strong. The weaker the foreign exchange value of the dollar, the less expensive goods and services are to foreigners, and this also helps spurt export activity. Imports grow when U.S. economic growth is robust. Imports are also spurred by a strong foreign exchange value of the dollar.
Data Source: Haver Analytics
 
[Chart]
The international trade balance has posted a deficit almost continuously since the 1980s. Any trade deficit is a drag on U.S. GDP growth, but a smaller deficit adds to growth, while a larger deficit decreases GDP growth.
Data Source: Haver Analytics
 

 

2012 Release Schedule
Released On: 1/132/103/94/125/106/87/118/99/1110/1111/812/11
Release For: NovDecJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOct
 


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