November 22, 2017

Trade Gap Falls, Hinting At Pickup in U.S. Growth

The Commerce Department said on Tuesday that the United States trade gap fell more than 22 percent, to $34.2 billion, in June from May. That is lowest level since October 2009.

American companies shipped more aircraft engines, telecommunications equipment, heavy machinery and farm goods. As a result, exports rose 2.2 percent to a record high of $191.2 billion.

Imports declined 2.2 percent to $225.4 billion, in part because oil imports fell to the lowest level in more than two years.

Economists said the steep drop in the trade deficit would most likely lead the government to revise its economic growth estimate for the April-June quarter.

“We could see a sizable upward revision,” said Jennifer Lee, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.

Last week the government said the economy grew at a lackluster 1.7 percent annual rate in the second quarter, in part because trade cut nearly a full percentage point from growth.

But after seeing the June trade figures — which were not factored into last month’s growth estimate — some economists said growth could be closer to a 2.5 percent annual rate. The government reports its second estimate of growth for the April-June quarter on Aug. 29.

A smaller trade deficit lifts economic growth because it means consumers and businesses are spending less on foreign goods than companies are taking in from overseas sales.

Many economists say they think overall growth has started to rebound in the July-September quarter. Some say growth could come close to a 3 percent annual rate. A crucial reason is that several export markets, including Europe, are seeing improvement.

For June, United States exports to the 27-nation European Union rose 1.5 percent. That helped shrink the deficit with the region to $7.1 billion.

The deficit with China fell 4.3 percent, to $26.6 billion, while America’s deficit with Japan rose 2.2 percent, to $5.5 billion in June.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/07/business/economy/trade-gap-falls-suggesting-faster-us-economic-growth.html?partner=rss&emc=rss