2018 Economic Calendar
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International Trade  
Released On 6/6/2018 8:30:00 AM For Apr, 2018
PriorPrior RevisedConsensusConsensus RangeActual
Trade Balance Level$-49.0 B$-47.2 B$-49.0 B$-52.5 B to $-47.6 B$-46.2 B

Highlights
Helped by a dip in cellphone imports, the nation's trade gap narrowed sharply in April to a much lower-than-expected $46.2 billion. Cellphone imports fell $2.2 billion to pull down the consumer-goods deficit which narrowed by $2.8 billion in the month.

Despite the improvement for consumer goods, the bilateral gap with China rose a noticeable $2.1 billion to an unadjusted $28.0 billion in results that probably won't ease ongoing trade friction. Note that country data, unlike other data in this report, are traditionally tracked in unadjusted terms due to small monthly totals yet adjusted data for China are available and tell a different story with the gap at a higher level of $30.8 billion but down in month-to-month terms from an adjusted $34.2 billion in March.

Turning back to unadjusted country data, the gap with Europe also deepened, by $2.5 billion in April to $14.6 billion with the Japanese gap little changed at $6.3 billion. Turning to North America, the gap with Mexico narrowed by $2.4 billion to a deficit of $5.7 billion while a small March surplus with Canada turned into a $785 million deficit in April.

Imports of iron and steel mill products rose $228 million to $2.1 billion with imports of bauxite and aluminum up slightly to $1.5 billion. It will be interesting to watch whether these totals, due to U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum, begin to slide in the month's ahead.

Overall, exports rose 0.3 percent in the month to $221.2 billion with goods, led by a gain for industrial supplies and also food, up 0.2 percent at $141.3 billion and despite a 0.1 percent slip in service exports which totaled $70 billion. Imports fell 0.2 percent with goods, again reflecting the weakness in cellphones, down 0.3 percent to $209.5 billion and services up 0.6 percent to $47.9 billion.

April's deficit is more than $1 billion narrower than March and far under the $53.1 billion monthly average of the first quarter. This points to a big net-export lift for second-quarter GDP.

Consensus Outlook
The international trade deficit for goods and services is expected to hold steady in April at $49.0 billion in line with little change in advance data on the goods side of the report. The advance data showed a 0.5 percent decline in imports but also a 0.5 percent decline for exports. Tariff effects on metals are a possible wildcard for the April report.

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 48 countries and 7 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 nation's international trade balance has been in continuous deficit since the 1980s. Yet trade, even though in deficit, can still add to GDP provided the deficit is narrowing. A deepening deficit is a negative for GDP.
Data Source: Haver Analytics
 
 

2018 Release Schedule
Released On: 1/52/63/74/55/36/67/68/39/510/511/212/6
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