2017 Economic Calendar
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International Trade  
Released On 3/7/2017 8:30:00 AM For Jan, 2017
PriorConsensusConsensus RangeActual
Trade Balance Level$-44.3 B$-48.5 B$-49.4 B to $-45.0 B$-48.5 B

Highlights
January's trade deficit came in very deep but at least right on expectations, at $48.5 billion and reflecting a surge in foreign consumer and vehicle imports and higher prices for imported oil.

January imports rose 2.3 percent from December to $197.6 billion with imports of consumer goods jumping 2.4 percent to $52.1 billion and with vehicle imports up 1.3 percent to $13.6 billion. Petroleum imports totaled $15.3 billion in the month, up 19 percent and reflecting both higher prices, at $43.94 per barrel vs December's $41.45, and a rise in volumes, at 8.4 million barrels per day vs 7.7 million.

Though dwarfed by imports, exports did rise 0.6 percent to $128.0 billion led by industrial supplies (where higher oil prices are at play) and also a 1.3 percent gain for vehicle exports to $13.6 billion as well as a $0.6 billion gain for foods. Exports of capital goods fell a sharp 1.9 percent to $43.5 billion in a decline that only partially reflected aircraft. Exports of services, usually the strength for the U.S., were unchanged in the month at $64.1 billion.

Unadjusted country data show a monthly widening with China, to a monthly deficit of $31.3 billion, and a widening with Canada, at $3.6 billion. Deficits narrowed with the EU, to $11.5 billion, with Japan, to $5.5 billion, and with Mexico, to $4.0 billion.

Strong demand for foreign goods and light demand for U.S. services and capital goods is not a favorable mix for GDP. This report puts first-quarter GDP on the defensive.

Recent History Of This Indicator
At a deficit of $69.2 billion, January was a very weak month for advance goods data. Exports were pulled down by an unpromising drop in capital goods while a surge in imports was once again led by consumer goods and vehicles. Forecasters see the international trade balance for February, which includes service exports, coming in at minus $48.5 billion in what would be one of the widest deficits in 5 years and an opening round negative 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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