Good News on the Trade Deficit, Thanks to Petroleum

The U.S. Department of Commerce has released its report on international trade in the month of May. This is known as the trade deficit to the rest of us. May’s trade deficit narrowed to -$44.39 billion, and the consensus from Bloomberg was -$45.1 billion. Dow Jones was calling for -$45.0 billion. The preliminary reading for April of -$47.24 billion was revised to -$47.04 billion.

Where this report gets interesting is that it is a contraction in May after having seen a wide jump up in April. The prior jump was due at least partially to annual revisions, but the trade gap rose to a deficit of -$47.0 billion in April from -$44.2 billion in March.

In May, exports were up by 1% to $195.46 billion and imports were down 0.3% to $239.85 billion. Petroleum product exports helped in May, as did record levels of exports in cars and consumer goods.

If you are looking to see if the energy export and import trends are good, look no further — petroleum imports were the lowest since November of 2010. The flip-side is that non-petroleum imports were a record.

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