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163 matches for "trade deficit":
Chief U.S. Economist Ian Shepherdson on the U.S. Trade Deficit
Today is all about beans. Specifically, soybeans, and more specifically, just how many of them were exported in August. This really matters, because if soybean exports in August and September remained close to their hugely elevated July level, the surge in exports relative to the second quarter will contribute about one percentage point to headline GDP growth.
Net trade has been a major drag on the economy's growth rate in recent quarters, and February's trade figures, released today, are likely to signal another dismal performance in the first quarter.
The closer we look at the startling surge in imports in the fourth quarter, the more convinced we become that it was due in large part to a burst of inventory replacement following the late summer hurricanes.
The April international trade numbers were startlingly, and surprisingly, horrible. The deficit in trade in goods leaped by $6.2B -- the biggest one-month jump in two years -- to $67.1B, though the headline damage was limited by a sharp narrowing in the oil deficit, thanks to lower prices, and a rebound in the aircraft surplus.
Recent export performance has been poor, but the export orders index in the ISM manufacturing survey-- the most reliable short-term leading indicator--strongly suggests that it will be terrible in the fourth quarter.
Weak oil prices and flagging domestic demand reduces Japan's trade deficit in August.
The US trade deficit unexpectedly widened by 17% to $46.6 billion in December from $39.8 billion in November.
A widening core trade deficit is the inevitable consequence of a strengthening currency and faster growth than most of your trading partners. Falling oil prices have limited the headline damage by driving down net oil imports, but the downward trend in core exports since late 2014 has been steep and sustained, as our first chart shows. The deterioration meant that trade subtracted an average of 0.3 percentage points from GDP growth in the past three quarters.
The July trade deficit likely fell significantly further than the consensus forecast for a dip to $42.2B from $43.8B in June, despite the sharp drop in the ISM manufacturing export orders index. Our optimism is not just wishful thinking on our p art; our forecast is based on the BEA's new advance trade report. These data passed unnoticed in the markets and the media. The July report, released August 28, wasn't even listed on Bloomberg's U.S. calendar, which does manage to find space for such useless indicators as the Challenger job cut survey and Kansas City Fed manufacturing index. Baffling.
The agreement between Presidents Trump and Xi at the G20 is a deferment of disaster rather than a fundamental rebuilding of the trading relationship between the U.S. and China.
Yesterday's final manufacturing PMIs confirmed that the headline index in the euro area rebounded further last month.
Data released this week have confirmed that the Mexican economy is struggling and that the near-term outlook remains extremely challenging.
The terrible scenes from Texas will play out in the economic data over the next few weeks.
Brazil's external accounts were a relatively bright spot last year, once again.
Brazil's external accounts continue to surprise to the upside, with the current account deficit remaining close to historic lows and capital flows performing better than anticipated, mostly due to higher-than- expected FDI.
We aren't convinced by the idea that consumers' confidence will be depressed as a direct result of the rollover in most of the regular surveys of business sentiment and activity.
Brazil's current account deficit is stabilizing following an substantial narrowing since early 2015, thanks to the deep recession.
Mexico's trade balance shrank slightly last year, to USD11B, from USD13B in 2016. The main driver was a big swing in the non- energy balance, to a record USD8.0B surplus, following a USD0.4B deficit in 2016.
We have spent the past few weeks shifting our story on the EZ economy from one focused on slowing growth and downside risks to a more balanced outlook. It seems that markets are starting to agree with us.
The underlying trend in payroll growth ought to be running at 250K-plus, based on an array of indicators of the pace of both hiring and firing. The past few months' numbers have fallen far short of this pace, though, for reasons which are not yet clear. We are inclined to blame a shortage of suitably qualified staff, not least because that appears to be the message from the NFIB survey, which shows that the proportion of small businesses with unfilled positions is now close to the highs seen in previous cycles. If we're right, payroll growth won't return to the 254K average recorded in 2014 until the next cyclical upturn, but quite what to expect instead is anyone's guess.
We have no reason to think the underlying trend in payroll growth has changed--the 235K average for the past three months is as good a guide as any--but the balance of risks points clearly to a rather lower print for August. Two specific factors, neither of which have any bearing on the trend, are likely to have a significant influence on the numbers, and both will work to push the number below the 217K consensus.
Implied volatility on the euro is now so low that we're compelled to write about it, mainly because we think the macroeconomic data are hinting where the euro goes next.
The news in Brazil on inflation and politics has been relatively positive in recent weeks, allowing policymakers to keep cutting interest rates to boost the stuttering recovery.
Net foreign trade was a drag on GDP growth in the second quarter, subtracting 0.7 percentage points from the headline number.
The biggest single surprise in the second quarter GDP report was the unexpected $28B real-terms drop in inventories.
The models which generate the ADP measure of private payrolls will benefit in May from the strength of the headline industrial production, business sales and jobless claims numbers.
Mexico's trade balance shrank slightly last year, to USD13B, from USD14.6B in 2015. An improvement in the non-energy deficit was the main driver, while the energy gap worsened.
Markets often greet the monthly international trade numbers with a shrug.
The Fed wants price stability--currently defined as 2% inflation--and maximum sustainable employment.
The BRL remains under severe stress, despite renewed signals of a sustained economic recovery and strengthening expectations that the end of the monetary easing cycle is near.
Today's wave of data will bring new information on the industrial sector, consumers, the labor market, and housing, as well as revisions to the third quarter GDP numbers.
Yesterday's raft of data had no net impact on our forecast for second quarter GDP growth, which we still think will be about 21⁄4%.
We were wrong about headline durable goods orders in April, because the civilian aircraft component behaved very strangely.
Mexico's economic picture remains positive, although the outlook for 2019 is growing cloudy as the economy likely will lose momentum if AMLO's populist approach continues next year.
We have tweaked our third quarter GDP forecast in the wake of the September advance international trade and inventory data; we now expect today's first estimate to show that the economy expanded at a 4.0% annualized rate.
Fed Chair Powell's semi-annual Monetary Policy Testimony yesterday broke no new ground, largely repeating the message of the January 30 press conference.
The Fed is on course to hike again in December, with 12 of the 16 FOMC forecasters expecting rates to end the year 25bp higher than the current 2-to-21⁄4%; back in June, just eight expected four or more hikes for the year.
Net foreign trade made a positive contribution of 0.2 percentage points to GDP growth in the second quarter, matching the Q1 performance.
Today brings a ton of data, as well as an appearance by Fed Chair Powell at the Economic Club of New York, in which we assume he will address the current state of the economy and the Fed's approach to policy.
It seems reasonable to think that manufacturing should be doing better in the U.S. than other major economies.
The publication yesterday of the BCB's second quarterly inflation report under the new president, Ilan Golfajn, revealed that inflation is expected to hit the official target next year, for the first time since 2009. The inflation forecast for 2017 was lowered from 4.7% to 4.4%, just below the central bank's 4.5% target.
Fourth quarter GDP growth is likely to be revised down today.
The advance trade data for February make it very likely that today's full report will show the headline deficit rose by about $½B compared to March, thanks to rising net imports of both capital and consumer goods, which were only partly offset by improvements in the oil and auto accounts.
Fed Chair Powell sounded a lot like Janet Yellen yesterday, at least in terms of substance.
The decline in headline durable goods orders in May, reported yesterday, doesn't matter.
The definition of "yesbutism": Noun, meaning the practice of dismissing or seeking to diminish the importance of data on the grounds that the next iteration will tell the opposite story.
The meta game between China and Mr. Trump started as soon as he had any possibility of winning the election in 2016.
The verdict is in.
The contrast between November's very modest 67K ADP private payroll number and the surprising 254K official reading was startling, even when the 46K boost to the latter from returning GM strikers is stripped out.
The ink has hardly dried on economists' and the ECB's inflation projections for 2020, but we suspect that some forecasters are already considering ripping up the script.
Mortgage applications have risen, net, over the past couple of months, despite the 70bp surge in 30-year mortgage rates since the election. Indeed, we'd argue that the increase in applications is a result of the spike in rates, because it likely scared would-be homebuyers, triggering a wave of demand from people seeking to lock-in rates, fearing further increases.
German manufacturing data are all over the place at the moment. Earlier this week, data showed that new orders jumped toward the end of 2016, but yesterday's industrial production report was a shocker. Output plunged 3.0% month-to-month in December, pushing the year-over-year rate down to -0.7% from a revised +2.3% in November.
German factory orders probably bounced a modest 0.3% month-to-month in February, equivalent to a 0.5% decline year-over-year. We expect private investment growth to have picked up in the first quarter, but leading indicators for the industrial sector in Germany are sending conflicting signals.
Last week's manufacturing data in Germany left investors with more questions than answers.
The 0.7% month-to-month rise in industrial production in September marked the sixth consecutive increase, a feat last achieved 23 years ago.
The German manufacturing data remain terrible. Friday's factory orders report showed that new orders plunged 2.2% month-to-month in May, convincingly cancelling out the 1.1% cumulative increase in March and April.
Demand in German manufacturing rebounded slightly at the end of Q1, though the overall picture for the sector remains grim.
The German manufacturing sector appears to have settled into an equilibrium of sustained misery.
Friday's industrial production data in Germany added to the manufacturing optimism following the sharp rise in new orders--see here--reported earlier in the week.
The industrial sector went from strength to strength in 2017. Year-over-year growth in production picked up to 2.1%--its highest rate since 2010--from 1.3% in 2016.
The release of October's GDP report on Tuesday likely will be overshadowed by campaigning ahead of Thursday's general election.
The ECB made no changes to its policy stance yesterday. The central bank left its refinancing and deposit rates at 0.00% and -0.4%, respectively, and maintained the pace of QE at €60B per month. The program will run until December "or beyond, if necessary."
Manufacturers in Germany endured another miserable quarter in Q3.
Friday's factory orders report in Germany provided a bit of relief amid the gloom in manufacturing.
Following the summer recess, the U.K. Government has turned to the unenviable task of weighing up how much economic pain to endure in order to reduce immigration. The Government's insistence that Brexit "must mean controls on the numbers of people who come to Britain from Europe" suggests it is prepared to sacrifice access to the single market in order to appease public opinion.
India's PMIs for October were grim, indicating minimal carry-over of energy from the third quarter rebound.
Yesterday's detailed Q3 growth data in the Eurozone offered no surprises in terms of the headline.
The jump in the Caixin services PMI in the past two months looks erratic, with holiday effects playing a role, though there could be more going on here.
We are not concerned by the very modest tightening in business lending standards reported in the Fed's quarterly survey of senior loan officers, published on Monday.
Mexico's final estimate of third quarter GDP, released yesterday, confirmed that the economy is still struggling in the face of domestic and external headwinds.
Labor demand, as measured by an array of business surveys, clearly slowed from the cycle peak, recorded late last year.
The key data originally scheduled for today--ADP employment and the ISM non-manufacturing survey, and the revised Q3 productivity and unit labor costs-- have been pushed to Thursday because the federal government will be closed for the National Day of Mourning for president George H. W. Bush.
Just how low would sterling go in the event of a no-deal Brexit? When Reuters last surveyed economists at the start of June, the consensus was that sterling would settle between $1.15 and $1.20 and fall to parity against the euro within one month after an acrimonious separation on October 31.
Yesterday's final manufacturing PMIs for October were grim, but they told investors nothing they don't already know.
Yesterday's news that the business activity index of the Markit/CIPS services survey fell again in January, to just 50.1--its lowest level since July 2016--has created a downbeat backdrop to the MPC meeting; the minutes and Q1 Inflation Report will be published on Thursday.
Friday's early EZ CPI data for December were red hot. Headline HICP inflation in Germany jumped to 1.5%, from 1.3% in November, while the headline rate in France increased by 0.4pp, to 1.6%.
Yesterday's economic reports in the Eurozone were solid across the board.
All the signs are that ADP will today report a solid increase in February private payrolls; our forecast is 200K, but if you twist our arms we'd probably say the mild weather last month across most of the country points to a bit of upside risk.
Yesterday's economic reports in the Eurozone were mostly positive.
Always expect the unexpected in a bonus month for Japanese wages.
Markets were jolted yesterday by news that the U.S. Fed is mulling ending, or at least slowing, the reinvestment of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities later this year. Such a move would reduce liquidity in global markets that has underpinned soaring equity prices in recent years.
We're expecting a 175K increase in December payrolls today. Our forecast has been nudged down from 190K in the wake of the ADP employment report, which was slightly weaker than we expected.
Judging by interactions with readers in the past few weeks, fiscal policy is one of the most important topics for EZ investors as we move into the final stretch of the year.
Yesterday's data showed that the euro area PMIs were a bit stronger than initially estimated in November.
The president was on the warpath with the Fed again yesterday, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.
Today's general election looks set to be a closer race than opinion polls suggested two weeks ago.
Hopes that GDP growth might be boosted soon by a pick-up in net exports continue to be undermined by the latest data.
Mrs. May looks set to lose the second "meaningful vote" on the Withdrawal Agreement-- WA--today, whether she decides on a straightforward vote or one asking MPs to b ack it if some hypothetical concessions are achieved.
The sluggishness of consumers' spending and business investment in the first quarter means that hopes of a headline GDP print close to 2% rely in part on the noisier components of the economy, namely, inventories and foreign trade.
The latest GDP data continue to show that the economy is holding up well, despite the Brexit saga.
Mexico's inflation remains the envy of LatAm, having consistently outperformed the rest of the region this year. Headline inflation slowed marginally to 2.5% in October, a record low and below the middle of Banxico's target, 2-to-4%, for the sixth straight month. The annual core rate increased marginally to 2.5% in October from 2.4% in September, but it remains below the target and its underlying trend is inching up only at a very slow pace. We expect it to remain subdued, closing the year around 2.7% year-over-year. Next year it will gradually increase, but will stay below 3.5% during the first half of 2016, given the lack of demand pressures and the ample output gap.
Yesterday's economic reports in the Eurozone were ugly.
The headline figures from yesterday's GDP report gave a bad impression. September's 0.1% month-to- month decline in GDP matched the consensus and primarily reflected mean-reversion in car production and car sales, which both picked up in August.
Long-standing readers will know that we have been downbeat on the potential for net external trade to boost the economy following sterling's 2016 depreciation.
Japan's unadjusted current account surplus fell sharply in November, to ¥757B, from ¥1,310B in October.
The fall in CPI inflation to just 1.5% in October-- its lowest rate since November 2016--from 1.7% in September, isn't a game-changer for the monetary policy outlook.
The rate of deterioration in the labour market remains gradual enough for the MPC to hold back from cutting Bank Rate over the coming months.
Chile's market volatility and high political risk continue, despite government efforts to ease the crisis.
Next week is so crammed full of data releases that we need to preview November's consumer price data early, in the eye of the storm of the general election.
We didn't believe the first estimate of Q1 GDP growth, 0.7%, and we won't believe today's second estimate, either. The data are riddled with distortions, most notably the long-standing problem of residual seasonality, which depressed the number by about one percentage point.
October's consumer prices report, released on Wednesday, likely will show that CPI inflation has continued to drift further below the 2% target
Friday's data force us to walk back our recession call for Germany. The seasonally adjusted trade surplus rose in September, to €19.2B from €18.7B in August, lifted by a 1.5% month-to-month jump in exports, and the previous months' numbers were revised up significantly.
The Conservatives successfully have defended their average poll lead over Labour of 10 percentage points over the last week.
Friday was a busy day in the Eurozone. The final and detailed GDP report confirmed that growth in the euro area slowed to 0.2% quarter-on-quarter in Q3, from 0.4% in Q2, with the year-over-year rate slipping by 0.6 percentage points to 1.6%, just 0.1pp below the first estimate.
June's trade figures yesterday highlighted that it takes more than just a few months for exchange rate depreciations to boost GDP growth. The trade-weighted sterling index dropped by 9% between November and June as the risk of Brexit loomed large and the prospect of imminent increases in interest rates receded.
The U.K.'s still-large current account deficit makes us nervous that sterling will need to depreciate further over the medium-term and would collapse if Brexit talks fail, causing international investors to take flight.
The consensus view that industrial production rose by a mere 0.1% month-to-month in August looks far too low; we expect today's report to reveal a jump of about 1%.
The Brazilian Central Bank's policy board-- COPOM--voted unanimously on Wednesday to cut the Selic rate by 50bp to 5.00%, as expected.
Yesterday's industrial production report in Germany was much better than implied by the poor new orders data--see here--released earlier this week.
Friday's data provided the first bit of evidence that manufacturing in the Eurozone is headed for a slowdown in Q2, partly reversing the strength in Q1.
French manufacturing came roaring back at the end of Q1. Industrial production jumped 2.0% month-to- month in March, driving the year-over-year rate higher to +2.0%, from a revised -0.7% in February.
The popular belief that economists rarely agree about anything is reinforced by the extremely wide dispersion of forecasts for March industrial production. The forecasts range from the wildly optimistic prediction of a 1.9% month-to-month rise, to a downright miserable 0.3% decline. We think production rose by about 0.5% month-to-month, and this likely will be interpreted as a decent result, following the recent run of bad news.
Inflation appears no longer to be an issue for Mexican policymakers. The annual headline rate slowed to 3.0% year-over-year in February from 3.1% in January, in the middle of the central bank's target range, for the first time since May 2006.
Markets rightly placed little weight on October's below-consensus GDP report yesterday, and still think that the chances of the MPC cutting Bank Rate within the next six months are below 50%.
September's industrial production figures likely will not surprise markets today. We look for a 0.3% month-to-month rise in production, matching the consensus and the ONS assumption in the preliminary estimate of Q3 GDP.
Industrial production hit its stride last year, notching up eight consecutive month-to-month gains--the longest run of unbroken growth since May 1994--before a setback in December, which was triggered by the temporary closure of the Forties oil pipeline.
October's 0.1% month-to-month fall in retail sales volumes was disappointing, following substantial improvements in the CBI, BRC and BDO survey measures.
December's consumer prices report looks set to show that CPI inflation was stable at 1.5%--in line with the consensus--though the risks are skewed to the downside.
Data released yesterday from Brazil support our view that the economic recovery continues, but progress has been slow.
Brazil's mid-June inflation reading surprised to the downside, falling to 9.0% from 9.6% in May. The reading essentially confirmed that May's rebound was a pause in the downward trend rather than a resurgence of inflationary pressures. A 1.3% increase in housing prices, including services, was the main driver of mid-June's modest unadjusted 0.4% month-to-month rise in the IPCA-15.
The Eurozone's external surplus rebounded slightly at the start of Q3.
The euro area's trade advantage with the rest of the world slipped at the start of the year.
The euro area's current account surplus stumbled at the end of 2017, falling to €29.9B in December from an upwardly-revised €35.0B in November.
Japan's trade balance deteriorated sharply in May, flipping to a ¥967B deficit from the modest ¥57B surplus in April.
The Spanish economy has been living a quiet life recently, amid markets' focus on political risks in Italy and manufacturing slowdowns in Germany and France.
Japanese policymakers will have been scouring yesterday's data for signs that the trade situation is improving.
Colombia's economy activity is deteriorating rapidly, suggesting that BanRep will have to cut interest rates on Friday. Incoming data make it clear that the economy has moved into a period of deceleration, painting a starkly different picture than a year ago.
We're braced for a hefty downside surprise in today's durable goods orders numbers, thanks to a technicality.
Inflation in the biggest economies in the region remains close to cyclical lows, allowing central banks to ease even further over the next few months.
The latest data from container ports around the country are consistent with our view that imports are still correcting after the surge late last year, triggered by the hurricanes.
Colombia's recently-released data signal that the economy started the year quite strongly, following a relatively poor end to Q4.
We've seen some alarming estimates of the potential impact on inflation of the House Republicans' plans for corporate tax reform, with some forecasts suggesting the CPI would be pushed up as much as 5%. We think the impact will be much smaller, more like 1-to-11⁄2% at most, and it could be much less, depending on what happens to the dollar. But the timing would be terrible, given the Fed's fears over the inflation risk posed by the tightness of the labor market.
The PBoC late on Wednesday announced measures to provide medium-term funding for smaller businesses.
Mr. Trump fired the shot everyone was expecting this week with a 10% tariff on $200B-worth of Chinese goods, and a pledge to lift the rate to 25% on January 1.
Incoming activity data from Colombia over the past quarter have been surprisingly strong, despite many domestic and external threats.
Banxico will meet tomorrow, and we expect Mexican policymakers to cut the main interest rate by 25bp, to 7.25%.
Evidence of accelerating economic activity in Colombia continues to mount, in stark contrast with its regional peers and DM economies.
Banxico cut its policy rate by 25bp to 7.25% yesterday, as was widely expected, following similar moves in August, September and November.
The new Argentinian president, Alberto Fernández, will have to make a quick start on the titanic task of cleaning up the economic and social mess left by his predecessor, Mauricio Macri.
The euro area's external surplus remained resilient toward the end of 2017, in the face of a stronger currency. The seasonally adjusted trade surplus rose to €22.5B in November, from €19.0B in October, lifted primarily by a jump in German exports.
No subject in the EZ economy is a source of more dispute than Germany's ballooning current account surplus. The Economist recently identified he German surplus as a problem for the world economy.
The euro area's trade surplus slipped further mid- way through the second quarter; falling to a 15-month low of €16.9B in May, from a downwardly-revised €18.0B in April, and extending its descent from last year's peak of nearly €24.0B.
The key detail in Friday's barrage of economic data was the above-consensus increase in EZ inflation.
Argentinians are heading to the polls on Sunday October 27 and will likely turn their backs on the current president, Mauricio Macri.
This week has seen a huge wave of data releases for both January and February, but the calendar today is empty save for the final Michigan consumer sentiment numbers; the preliminary index rose to a very strong 99.9 from 95.7, and we expect no significant change in the final reading.
Colombian activity data released this last week were upbeat, better than we expected, showing a significant pickup in manufacturing output and improving retail sales. Retail sales rose 3.1% year- over-year, after a modest 1.0% increase in June.
While were out over the holidays, the single biggest surprise in the data was yet another drop in imports, reported in the advance trade numbers for November.
President Trump wrote to Congress on Monday, saying that the U.S. finally has reached a trade deal with Japan, about a month after he and Prime Minister Abe announced an agreement in principle, on the sidelines of the G7 Summit in France.
On the face of it, trade negotiations have deteriorated in the last week.
Yesterday's wall of data told us a bit about where the economy likely is going, and a bit about how it started the first quarter. The January trade and inventory data were disappointing, but the February Chicago PMI and consumer confidence reports were positive.
Data released earlier this week show that Japan's current account surplus continued its downtrend in October, falling to ¥1,404B, on our seasonal adjustment, from ¥1,494B in September.
Today's September international trade report will be the third to be distorted by hugely elevated soybean exports. The surge began in July, when soybean exports jumped by $3.6B--that's a 220% month-to-month increase--to $5.2B.
In the absence of reliable advance indicators, forecasting the monthly movements in the trade deficit is difficult.
Colombia's trade deficit continued to narrow in Q3; a postive development now that EM are back in the firing line. Assuming no revisions, the marginal year-over-year dip in the September trade deficit means that the third quarter deficit was USD3.1B, down from US4.6B a year ago.
A year has now elapsed since sterling began its precipitous descent, and the trade data still have not improved. Net trade subtracted 0.9 percentage points from year-over-year growth in GDP in Q3. And while the trade deficit of £2.0B in October was the smallest since May, this followed extraordinarily large deficits in the previous two months. In fact, the trade deficit has been on a slightly deteriorating trend over the last year, as our first chart shows, and we expect today's data to show that the deficit re-widened to about £3.5B in November.
The uncertainty over the new U.S. administration's economic policies new is clouding the outlook for the Eurozone economy. The combination of loose fiscal policy and tight monetary policy in the U.S. should be positive for the euro area economy, in theory. It points to accelerating U.S. growth--at least in the near term--wider interest rate differentials and a stronger dollar. In a " traditional" global macroeconomic model, this policy mix would lead to a wider U.S. trade deficit, boosting Eurozone exports.
Today's trade figures likely will continue to show that the benefits from sterling's depreciation are being outweighed by the costs. Exports still are barely growing, but consumers are about to endure a substantial import price shock. The monthly trade deficit has been extremely volatile over the last year, generating a series of excessively upbeat or gloomy headlines. The truth is that the deficit has been on a slightly deteriorating trend, as our first chart shows. We think the trade deficit likely narrowed to £3.8B in December, from £4.2B in November, bringing it closer to its rolling 12-month average of £3.0B.
In one line: Trade deficit has stabilized, provided the China talks don't fall apart.
We were a bit surprised to see our forecast for the April trade deficit is in line with the consensus, $44B, down from $51.4B in March, because the uncertainty is so great. The March deficit was boosted by a huge surge in non-oil imports following the resolution of the West Coast port dispute, while exports rose only slightly. As far as we can tell, ports unloaded ships waiting in harbours and at the docks, lifting the import numbers before reloading those ships.
External demand in France probably weakened in the first quarter. The trade deficit widened sharply to €5.2B in February, from a revised €3.9B in January, pushing the current account deficit to an 18-month high. It is tempting to blame the stronger euro, but that wasn't the whole story.
The plunge in oil prices me ans that U.S. oil imports are set to drop much further over the next few months, flattering the headline trade deficit. The trend in imports has been downwards since early 2013, as our first chart shows, reflecting the surge in domestic production. That surge is now over, but as falling prices become the dominant factor in the oil import story, the trend will remain downwards.
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