Higher oil prices led to more red ink for the U.S. trade gap for the latest month. The U.S. trade deficit expanded in January to $52.6 billion from $50.4 billion in December (originally $48.8 billion). Analysts called for a shortfall of $48.4 billion. 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.
Goods exports were led by capital goods excluding autos and autos. Goods imports were led by autos and by industrial supplies.
Excluding petroleum, goods exports jumped 2.3 percent in January after rising 0.4 percent the month before. Excluding petroleum, goods imports were up 1.8 percent after a 2.1 percent gain.
On a not seasonally adjusted basis, the January figures show surpluses, in billions of dollars, in part with Hong Kong $2.1 ($2.5 for December), Australia $1.6 ($1.7), and Singapore $0.8 ($1.3).. Deficits were seen in part, in billions of dollars, with China $26.0 ($23.1), OPEC $10.0 ($9.1), European Union $8.5 ($9.6), Japan $6.2 ($6.5), Canada $4.8 ($3.9), Mexico $4.2 ($4.9), and Germany $4.1 ($4.8).
The widening of the deficit was mostly (but not entirely) expected due to higher oil prices. This is a negative for the consumer's wallet. But the good news within the report is that nonpetroleum goods exports are still healthy-making manufacturers happy and providing support for continued economic growth.