November 2018 Trade Data Worsens From Last Month

Trade data headlines show the trade balance worsened from last month - and the rolling averages for exports and imports remained in the ranges seen over the last 12 months.

Analyst Opinion of Trade Data

The data in this series wobbles and the 3 month rolling averages are the best way to look at this series. The 3 month averages slowed for exports and imports.

The trade balance worsened. Econintersect uses the trade balance as a factor in determining the acceleration or deceleration of the economy - but does not believe the negative trade balance per se is an economic issue.

Note that the headline numbers are not inflation adjusted - and if one inflation adjusts, the year-over-year growth is less than economic growth.

  • Imports of goods were reported down - import goods growth has positive implications historically to the economy. Econintersect analysis shows unadjusted goods (not including services) growth decelerated 8.9 % month-over-month (unadjusted data) - up 3.1 % year-over-year (up 2.4 % year-over-year inflation adjusted). The rate of growth 3-month trend is decelerating (rate of change of growth declined).
  • Exports of goods were reported down, and Econintersect analysis shows unadjusted goods exports growth deceleration of (not including services) 4.5 % month-over-month - up 3.7 % year-over-year (up 2.0 % year-over-year inflation adjusted). The rate of growth 3-month trend is slowing.

  • The headwind in seasonally adjusted (but not inflation adjusted) was industrial supplies for both imports and exports.
  • The market expected (from Econoday) a trade balance of $-55.0 B to $-51.8 B (consensus $54.0 B billion deficit) and the seasonally adjusted headline deficit from US Census came in at $71.6 billion.
  • It should be noted that oil imports were down 16 million barrels from last month, and down 25 million barrels from one year ago.
  • The data in this series is noisy, and it is better to use the rolling averages to make sense of the data trends.
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