2011 Economic Calendar
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International Trade
Released On 2/11/2011 8:30:00 AM For Dec, 2010
PriorConsensusConsensus RangeActual
Trade Balance Level$-38.3 B$-40.5 B$-43.5 B to $-37.4 B$-40.6 B

Highlights
Higher oil prices led to a reversal and worsening in the trade gap in December. However, exports posted a solid gain for the month and excluding oil, the deficit actually narrowed notably. The overall U.S. trade deficit in December grew to $40.6 billion from an unrevised $38.3 billion deficit the prior month. The December shortfall essentially matched the median forecast for a $40.5 billion gap. Exports rose 1.8 percent, following a 1.0 percent gain in November. Imports jumped 2.6 percent after increasing 0.8 percent the month before.

The widening of the trade deficit was primarily in the petroleum gap which expanded to $25.3 billion from $20.1 billion in November. The nonpetroleum goods differential shrank to $27.2 billion from $30.4 billion the month before.

By end-use categories, the increase in goods exports was led by a $1.5 billion boost in capital goods with industrial supplies gaining $1.1 billion. Especially notable for capital goods was that only $0.2 billion was for civilian aircraft. Also rising were autos, up $0.6 billion. Declines were seen in consumer goods, down $0.3 billion, and in feeds & beverages, down negligibly.

The jump in goods imports was led by a $5.2 billion surge in industrial supplies-largely oil imports. Foods, feeds & beverages and auto imports rose modestly. Imports of consumer goods slipped $0.4 billion.

On a not seasonally adjusted basis, the December figures show surpluses, in billions of dollars, with Hong Kong $2.2 ($1.9 for November), Singapore $1.3 ($0.5), Australia $1.2 ($1.2), and Egypt $0.7 ($0.4). Deficits were recorded, in billions of dollars, with China $20.7 ($25.6), OPEC $8.3 ($7.0), European Union $6.6 ($7.1), Japan $5.9 ($5.8), Mexico $4.7 ($5.6), Canada $3.9 ($1.7), Germany $3.3 ($3.1), Ireland $2.6 ($2.3), Nigeria $2.5 ($1.7), Venezuela $2.0 ($1.6), Korea $0.7 ($1.6), and Taiwan $0.6 ($0.8).

While the larger overall trade gap is not good for overall economic growth, at least the boost in exports is a positive for U.S. manufacturers. There was little initial reaction in the markets to the report.

Recent History Of This Indicator
The U.S. international trade gap in November unexpectedly shrank slightly to $38.3 billion from a revised $38.4 billion gap the month before. The narrower gap reflected growth in exports slightly outpacing that for imports. Exports rose 0.8 percent, following a 3.0 percent jump in October. Imports rebounded a modest 0.6 percent after declining 0.8 percent in October. The narrowing of the trade deficit was primarily in the nonpetroleum goods gap which eased to $30.3 billion from $30.8 billion in October.

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
 

 

2011 Release Schedule
Released On: 1/132/113/104/125/116/97/128/119/810/1311/1012/9
Release For: NovDecJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOct
 


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