Executive Briefings

U.S. Trade Activity Picks Up in First Quarter

The U.S. trade gap widened in the first quarter compared to a year earlier as exports and imports rose, suggesting underlying strength in the global economy.

The trade deficit expanded $9.4bn, or 7.5 percent, in the first three months of the year compared to the same period a year earlier, the Commerce Department said Thursday. Exports and imports both grew by 7.1 percent.

Trade slumped slightly at the end of the quarter. The trade gap narrowed by 0.1 percent in March from a month earlier to a seasonally adjusted $43.71bn. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected a $44.5bn trade deficit in March. Exports slipped by 0.9 percent while imports fell by 0.7 percent.

Higher trade flows are a sign of economic health because they suggest individuals and companies around the world are able and willing to step up spending.

American producers are benefiting from greater global demand for U.S.-made goods and services. Exports of services reached a record in March, before adjusting for inflation, Thursday’s report showed. Exports of goods fell in March compared to February, reflecting lower sales abroad of oil, cars and civilian aircraft, but are rising over a broader period.

Imports fell in March because of reduced spending on civilian aircraft, computers, oil and cars.

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The trade deficit expanded $9.4bn, or 7.5 percent, in the first three months of the year compared to the same period a year earlier, the Commerce Department said Thursday. Exports and imports both grew by 7.1 percent.

Trade slumped slightly at the end of the quarter. The trade gap narrowed by 0.1 percent in March from a month earlier to a seasonally adjusted $43.71bn. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected a $44.5bn trade deficit in March. Exports slipped by 0.9 percent while imports fell by 0.7 percent.

Higher trade flows are a sign of economic health because they suggest individuals and companies around the world are able and willing to step up spending.

American producers are benefiting from greater global demand for U.S.-made goods and services. Exports of services reached a record in March, before adjusting for inflation, Thursday’s report showed. Exports of goods fell in March compared to February, reflecting lower sales abroad of oil, cars and civilian aircraft, but are rising over a broader period.

Imports fell in March because of reduced spending on civilian aircraft, computers, oil and cars.

Read Full Article