2017 Economic Calendar
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International Trade  
Released On 2/7/2017 8:30:00 AM For Dec, 2016
PriorPrior RevisedConsensusConsensus RangeActual
Trade Balance Level$-45.2 B$-45.7 B$-45.0 B$-45.5 B to $-42.0 B$-44.3 B

Highlights
Strong exports of capital goods helped limit the nation's trade deficit in December to a lower-than-expected $44.3 billion vs a revised $45.7 billion in November. Exports, also boosted by strong demand for U.S. services, rose a very solid 2.7 percent to $190.7 billion in the month, strength offset however by a 1.5 percent rise in imports to $235.0 billion that was swollen by heavy imports of vehicles.

Petroleum was not a factor in the December report with the related deficit unchanged from November at $6.1 billion. Details here show a 0.3 percent dip in imports to $14.3 billion in December and a 0.6 percent dip in exports to $8.2 billion. Month-to-month import volumes slipped slightly but were offset by a rise in the average barrel of crude to $41.45 which is the highest since September 2015.

Country data show a narrowing in the monthly gap with China to $27.8 billion from November's $30.5 billion and a narrowing with Mexico to $4.4 billion from $5.8 billion. For full year 2016, the gap with China totaled $347.0 billion, down from $367.2 billion in 2015, and with Mexico at $63.2 billion vs $60.7 billion in 2015. Gaps in Canada narrowed in December to $2.2 billion for $11.2 billion in 2016 and narrowed to $12.2 billion with the EU for a 2016 total of $146.3 billion.

December exports were the highest since April 2015 though imports were the heaviest since March 2015. Still, the active two-way traffic points to strong cross-border trade and improved global demand.

Recent History Of This Indicator
Advance data on goods trade in December showed a steep $65.0 billion deficit that was little changed from November. Exports of capital goods jumped in December but, in an offset, auto imports also jumped. When adding in the nation's surplus in services trade, forecasters see December's international trade deficit coming in little changed at $45.0 billion vs $45.2 billion in November.

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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