2012 Economic Calendar
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International Trade
Released On 5/10/2012 8:30:00 AM For Mar, 2012
PriorPrior RevisedConsensusConsensus RangeActual
Trade Balance Level$-46.0 B$-45.4 B$-49.5 B$-52.0 B to $-45.0 B$-51.8 B

Highlights
The trade balance worsened in the latest numbers but the details are encouraging as both exports and non-petroleum imports gained. In March, the U.S. trade gap expanded to $51.8 billion from $45.4 billion in February (originally $46.0 billion). Analysts forecast a deficit of $49.5 billion. Exports rose 2.9 percent after a 0.3 percent increase in February. Imports rebounded a sharp 5.2 percent, following a 2.8 percent drop the month before.

The worsening in the trade gap was led by the non-petroleum goods deficit which ballooned to $38.8 billion from $32.8 billion in February. The petroleum goods gap also grew-to $28.6 billion from $27.6 billion. The services surplus expanded to $15.8 billion from $15.7 billion.

On a not seasonally adjusted basis, the March figures showed surpluses, in billions of dollars, with Hong Kong $3.0 ($3.1 for February), Australia $2.0 ($1.7), and Singapore $0.9 ($0.7) among others. Deficits were recorded, in billions of dollars, with China $21.7 ($19.4), European Union $9.8 ($5.9), OPEC $9.1 ($6.4), Japan $7.1 ($7.0), Mexico $6.1 ($5.8), Germany $5.5 ($3.6), and Canada $3.1 ($2.9) among others.

Goods exports were led by industrial supplies and capital goods excluding autos.

Goods imports surged on rebounds in capital goods excluding autos, consumer goods, and industrial supplies. Autos and the foods, feeds & beverages components also made comebacks.

While the overall trade number is a negative for GDP in the short term, the details indicate that demand is stronger than seen earlier with gains in exports and imports. This suggests that manufacturing may not be taking much of a hit from Europe and also that businesses are betting on growth in consumer demand and business investment.

Market Consensus before announcement
The U.S. international trade gap in February unexpectedly shrank to $46.0 billion from $52.5 billion in January. 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.

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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