The December trade balance, known by the rest of us as the trade deficit, came in at -$38.54 billion. While this is still a huge number on the surface, this is the lowest number in close to three years. That is down from $48.6 billion in November and was under the consensus of -$46 billion from Bloomberg.
To show just how surprising this was, the Bloomberg economist range of estimates was only -$43.3 billion to -$48.5 billion. It should be noted that the BEA previously offered up that the trade deficit would fall down to somewhere around $40 billion.
Bloomberg said that the shrinkage was broad-based and reflected in part a reversal of the iPhone impact in November plus other factors. Exports rose by 2.1%, following a 1.0% rebound in November. Imports fell by 2.7% after rising 3.7% in November.
Bloomberg also said that today’s sharp drop in the trade deficit suggests a notable upward revision to fourth-quarter gross domestic product, almost certainly bumping the number back into positive territory. Briefing.com had a note showing that a strike at the Los Angeles ports also may have played an impact that may have delayed the arrival of some key imported goods as well.
The trade deficit does not move the markets any longer, but it still matters at a time for those of us who actually care about the endless trend toward the giving-away of America.