2017 Economic Calendar
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International Trade  
Released On 5/4/2017 8:30:00 AM For Mar, 2017
PriorPrior RevisedConsensusConsensus RangeActual
Trade Balance Level$-43.6 B$-43.8 B$-44.5 B$-47.8 B to $-41.4 B$-43.7 B

Highlights
A decline in imports held down March's international trade gap to $43.7 billion which is moderately under Econoday's consensus for $44.5 billion. But the breakdown doesn't point to cross-border strength as exports fell 0.9 percent to $191.0 billion in the month against a 0.7 percent decline for imports at $234.7 billion.

The petroleum gap widened sharply in the month to a nearly 2-year high of $7.9 billion and reflects higher prices for imports and a decline in exports. Exports showing the most weakness are industrial supplies, autos, and consumer goods. Foods rose slightly in March as did the key category of capital goods which otherwise has been flat.

On the import side most components are lower especially capital goods in what, along with capital goods shipments and nonresidential construction spending, is another contrast with the first-quarter GDP surge in nonresidential investment. Contrasting with the weakness in imports is a rise in imports of autos, up a sharp $1.2 billion in the month to $30.3 billion.

Country data are in line with trend: the nation's trade gap with China totaled $24.6 billion in the month followed by the EU at $11.2 billion with Japan at $7.2 billion and Mexico at $7.0 billion. Canada is next at a distant gap of $1.4 billion.

Breaking down the data between goods and services shows a small widening in the goods deficit to $65.5 billion offset in part by a modest looking but still constructive $0.4 billion dollar rise in the surplus on services. The overall decline in exports and imports is a concern, but today's report has several positives, not only the surplus on services but also the rise in capital goods exports. Today's report should give a modest and badly needed lift to revision estimates for first-quarter GDP.

Recent History Of This Indicator
Forecasters see the international trade gap for goods and services widening to a consensus $44.5 billion in March from February's $43.6 billion. This would be in line with advance data on the goods deficit which rose $0.9 billion in March to $64.8 billion. Any surprises in the report could affect revision expectations for first-quarter GDP.

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
 
 

2017 Release Schedule
Released On: 1/62/73/74/45/46/27/68/49/610/511/312/5
Release For: NovDecJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOct
 


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