Chart of U.S. trade balance, January 2011 to January 2013, from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

US Starts 2013 with Higher Trade Deficit

March 7, 2013
Trade deficits with China and Japan increase.

Starting the year in the wrong direction, the U.S. trade deficit increased in January to $44.4 billion, up from $38.1 billion in December 2012, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported today. The deficit figure was higher than analysts' consensus estimates of about $43 billion.

January exports fell to $184.5 billion in January from $186.6 billion in December. Meanwhile, imports increased in January to $228.9 billion from $224.8 billion in the previous month.

"The decline in exports reflected a 1.5% decrease in goods and a 0.3% downtick in services exports. On the import side, the rebound was entirely a petroleum story. Excluding petroleum products, goods imports declined slightly in January," said James Marple, senior economist with TD Economics.

The year-to-year comparison showed that the goods and services deficit decreased $7.8 billion from January 2012 to January 2013.

The trade deficit in goods increased $5.7 billion, with exports of industrial supplies falling from $44.1 billion in December 2012 to $41.4 billion in January 2013.

Advanced technology exports were $24.0 billion in January, while imports were $31.2 billion, resulting in a deficit of $7.1 billion.

The trade deficit in goods with China increased in January to $27.8 billion from $24.5 billion in December. The monthly deficit also rose with Japan to $6.1 billion

"The rising trade deficit with China is not a good sign for reshoring of manufacturing jobs," Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, commented.

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