US: International Trade in Goods

Thu Sep 28 07:30:00 CDT 2017

Consensus Consensus Range Actual Previous Revised
Balance $-65.7B $-67.9B to $-64.0B $-62.9B $-65.1B $-63.9B
Exports % change 0.2% -1.3% -0.3%
Imports % change -0.3% -0.3% -0.2%

The nation's trade gap in goods, at $62.9 billion vs July's $63.9 billion, narrowed sharply in August which will be a positive for third quarter GDP. Exports, boosted by a jump in consumer goods and also capital goods, rose 0.2 percent in the month to nearly reverse July's 0.3 percent decline. Imports fell 0.3 percent in August with down drafts in industrial supplies, capital goods, and also food products. This report includes preliminary data on August inventories at the wholesale and retail levels which surged, up 1.0 percent and 0.7 percent respectively, and will also be positives for third-quarter GDP.

Market Consensus Before Announcement
The goods deficit in August is expected to widen to a consensus $65.7 vs $63.9 billion in July ($65.1 billion initially reported). Exports of consumer goods and autos weakened in July while imports also dipped on declines for autos and industrial supplies as well as petroleum where an August gain is likely given the month's hurricane-related increase in oil prices. Advance data for both wholesale inventories and retail inventories in July, which are also GDP inputs and which have been mixed, will also be released with this report.

The Census Bureau is now publishing an advance report on U.S. international trade in goods. The Bureau of Economic Analysis will incorporate these data into its estimates of exports and imports for the advance GDP estimates. This is expected to reduce the size of revisions to GDP growth in the second estimates.

Note that data in the advance goods report are accounted for on a census basis and can differ slightly from subsequent data in the international trade report where goods data are accounted for on a balance of payment basis to adjust for changes in ownership that can occur without goods passing into or out of the US.

Changes in the levels of imports and exports, along with the difference between the two (the trade balance), are valuable gauges of economic trends here and abroad. While these trade figures can directly impact all financial markets, they primarily affect the value of the dollar in the foreign exchange market.

Imports indicate demand for foreign goods here in the United States. Exports show foreign demand for U.S. goods. The dollar can be particularly sensitive to changes in the chronic trade deficit run by the United States, since this trade imbalance creates greater demand for foreign currencies.

Market reaction to this report is complex. Typically, the smaller the trade deficit, the more bullish it is for the dollar. Also, stronger exports are bullish for corporate earnings and the stock market. Like most economic indicators, the trade balance is subject to substantial monthly variability, especially when oil prices change.

It is also useful to examine the trend growth rates for exports and imports separately because they can deviate significantly. Trends in export activity reflect both the competitive position of American industry and the strength of domestic and foreign economic activity. U.S. exports will grow when: 1) U.S. product prices are lower than foreign product prices; 2) the value of the dollar is relatively weaker than that of foreign currencies; 3) foreign economies are growing rapidly.

Imports will increase when: 1) foreign product prices are lower than prices of domestically-produced goods; 2) the value of the dollar is stronger than that of other currencies; 3) domestic demand for goods and services is robust.