Somewhat unexpectedly, data released from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis shows both imports and exports are up for the month of January.
The goods and services deficit was up $4.2 billion. Exports rose $1.1 billion while imports were $5.3 billion more than in December. The January increase in the goods and services deficit reflected an increase in the goods deficit of $4 billion and a decrease in the services surplus. Year-over-year, the goods and services deficit increased close to 12% from January of last year.
Industrial supplies and materials led the increase of goods exports, followed by capital goods and automotive vehicles, parts and engines. Consumer goods, crude oil, cell phones and other household goods, and industrial supplies and materials led the imports of goods.
The January figures show surpluses with Hong Kong, South and Central America, and Brazil. Deficits were recorded with China, the European Union, Germany, Mexico, Japan, Italy and OPEC. The balance with Saudi Arabia shifted from a surplus to a deficit, while the deficit with Mexico increased $1 billion to $5.5 billion for the month. For the fourth quarter, surpluses were led by South and Central America and Hong Kong while China and the European Union led deficits.
In the past, “China has seen its surplus fall a little, although the deficit remains very high,” said NACM Economist Chris Kuehl, Ph.D. “The surprise nation has been Germany, as they have been watching their surplus with the U.S. rise steadily over the last several years. This is significant as the Chinese surplus is built around the cheap consumer goods they sell to the U.S. while the Germans are selling high-value industrial goods and high-value consumer goods—basically the same goods the U.S. wants to sell on the global market.”
– Adam Fusco, editorial associate