U.S. Trade Deficit Drops to $48.7 Billion in May

U.S. Trade Deficit Drops to $48.7 Billion in May

Goods exports see increases in foods, feeds, beverages and capital goods.

Total exports of $183.1 billion and imports of $231.8 billion resulted in a goods and services deficit in May of $48.7 billion, the Commerce Department reported today, down from April's revised figure of $50.6 billion in April. 

May exports grew $0.4 billion from April exports of $182.7 billion.  May imports
were $1.6 billion less than April imports of $233.3 billion.

In May, the goods deficit decreased $1.6 billion from April to $63.5 billion, while the U.S. services surplus increased $300 million from April to $14.8 billion.  Exports of goods were virtually unchanged at $130.7 billion, and imports of goods decreased $1.6 billion to $194.3 billion.

The April to May increase in exports of goods reflected increases in foods, feeds, and beverages ($0.9 billion) and capital goods ($0.7 billion). Decreases occurred in industrial supplies and materials ($0.8 billion); consumer goods ($0.2 billion); and automotive vehicles, parts, and engines ($0.1 billion).  Other goods were virtually unchanged.

The April to May decrease in imports of goods reflected decreases in industrial supplies and materials ($3.6 billion); consumer goods ($0.4 billion); and foods, feeds, and beverages ($0.1 billion).  Increases occurred in capital goods ($1.4 billion); automotive vehicles, parts, and engines ($0.7 billion); and other goods ($0.3 billion).

"The narrowing of the deficit this month may seem encouraging with nominal exports posting a small gain, however, after adjusting for price changes, the export situation looks less favorable," said Michael Dolega, an economist with TD Economics. "Additionally, the decline in consumer goods (ex autos) imports further accentuates the weakness in consumption expenditures this quarter.  One bright spot in the import picture is the gain in capital goods as well as automotive vehicles and parts which posted healthy advances in May."

Advanced technology products exports were $24.8 billion in May and imports were $33.4 billion, resulting in a deficit of $8.7 billion.  May exports were $1.1 billion more than the $23.7 billion in April, while May imports were $3.1 billion more than the $30.3 billion in April.

Exports of services increased $0.3 billion to $52.4 billion, and imports of services edged up $0.1 billion to $37.5 billion.

The goods and services deficit increased $1 billion from May 2011 to May 2012.  Exports were up $7.4 billion, or 4.2%, and imports were up $8.4 billion, or 3.8%.

Drop in Oil Prices Helps Deficit

Dolega noted that a quarter of the narrowing in the trade deficit in May "can be attributed to the prices of petroleum products alone, as Brent crude fell over 8% on the month.  Additional narrowing can be expected going forward with Brent crude having fallen by nearly 14% in June."

The May 2011 to May 2012 increase in exports of goods reflected increases in capital goods
($2.6 billion); automotive vehicles, parts, and engines ($1.3 billion); foods, feeds, and beverages ($0.9 billion); industrial supplies and materials ($0.6 billion); and consumer goods ($0.5 billion). A decrease occurred in other goods ($0.1 billion).

The May 2011 to May 2012 increase in imports of goods reflected increases in automotive vehicles, parts, and engines ($5.6 billion); capital goods ($4.5 billion); other goods ($0.7 billion); consumer goods ($0.4 billion); and foods, feeds, and beverages ($0.1 billion).  A decrease occurred in industrial supplies and materials ($4.6 billion).

For the three months ending in May, the United States saw an average trade deficit of $50.6 billion.

The U.S. deficit with China increased $1.4 billion to $26 billion in May while the deficit with OPEC fell $300 million to $11.2 billion.  Deficits (shown in billions) also were recorded with the European Union $10.5, Japan $6.4, Mexico $6.3, Germany $4.9, Ireland $2.7,  Canada $2.2, Korea $2.0, Venezuela $1.6, Nigeria $1.4, and Taiwan $1.3.

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