June Trade Deficit Up Slightly

The US trade deficit increased a bit in June. Generally, the change was regarded as positive as it seems to indicate that demand is picking up globally.

The deficit increased to $27 billion from $26 billion in May. Economists had thought it would come in around $28.5 billion. Imports were $152.8 billion while exports clocked in at $125.8 billion. Rising prices for oil helped push up the import bill.

Here are some economists’ views from the WSJ Real Time Economics blog:

  • June’s trade figures highlight just how far the economy has traveled along the road to rebalancing. After stripping out the influence of higher oil prices, the trade deficit is now at an 11-year low. What’s more, this trend probably has further to run. Admittedly, the overall trade deficit widened in June, from $26.0 billion in May to $27.0 billion. But this was principally due to a 19% leap in oil imports that was driven by the increase in the price of imported energy and a rebound in the quantity of oil being imported rebounded after a dip in May. –Paul Dales, Capital Economics
  • Trade activity was dramatically affected by the financial crisis; exports are down 23.8% over a year earlier and imports have fallen 32.5%. Both of these declines are well beyond the falloff in economic activity and reflect severe constraints in trade financing. Those constraints appear to be easing with Goods exports rising for two months straight and imports up for the first time in June. Exports and imports of services also posted increases. –Julia Coronado, BNP Paribas
  • Most end-use imports fell, including capital goods and non-automotive consumer goods. The rise in exports, however, was more broadly based and included increased shipments of industrial materials and supplies and capital goods. The better performance of exports likely reflected the effects of the weaker dollar but also suggests that demand from abroad may be stabilizing. –Nomura Global Economics
  • The weakness in nonpetroleum imports (down $1.0 billion) was due mainly to a collapse in consumer goods inflows, which slid by $1.7 billion in June (led by large drops in toys, games, and sporting goods, TVs, VCRS, and apparel). In contrast, automotive imports increased for only the second time in a year and capital goods inflows were essentially steady. –Michelle Girard, RBS
  • The report is somewhat discouraging solely on the fact that the headline number implies a worsening U.S. trade deficit. However, when looking at the details of the report it becomes apparent that from an ex-petroleum perspective in addition to looking at the data in real terms, that the U.S. trade balance actually fared much better in June. Imports were helped by a double-digit run in crude prices, while exports were helped by a weakened U.S. dollar. On balance, we know that aggregate demand continues to be weak in the U.S. which should help limit imports in the near-term though that has the potential to be offset by higher prices in crude in addition to a potential automotive revival predicated on the back of the cash-for-clunkers program. –Ian Pollick, TD Securities
  • With the most violent portion of the U.S. inventory correction behind us, and with final demand stabilizing, the beneficial effect of lower imports ought to quickly fade from that seen recently. At the same time, exports will benefit from better economic conditions abroad. The net effect should be a reasonable stable level for the real net export deficit in the GDP accounts, which would contrast sharply with the enormous declines in the deficit that occurred during the height of the recession. This will blunt the upward effect on GDP growth of a slower trend rate of inventory liquidation. –Joshua Shapiro, MFR Inc.
  • The rise in exports may be a sign that global markets are beginning to stabilize and it is interesting that, over the last year, the least weak market for U.S. exports has been China (which further corroborates the relative strength of China’s growth data). The very depressed level of imports into the U.S. may well reflect record inventory liquidation in the second quarter (as evidenced by the plunge in imports of industrial supplies in the quarter) and we would not be surprised to see a pickup in imports in the third quarter (note the strong rise in imports of autos in June—a trend that is likely to continue given the cash-for-clunkers program). –RDQ Economics
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