US trade deficit improves slightly in March

US trade deficit edges lower in March

The trade deficit had been expected to widen to USD44.5 billion from the USD43.6 billion originally reported for the previous month.

U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, through the Department of Commerce, announced today that the goods and services deficit was $43.7 billion in March, down $0.1 billion from revised value of $43.8 billion in February.

The trade gap slipped 0.1 per cent in March to US$43.7 billion, seasonally-adjusted.

The March report indicated Canadian exports to the US were largely unchanged from the previous month, up a meager 0.1% to C$34.35 billion.

On the export goods side, there was a strong decline in industrial supplies exports, down $1.78 billion compared to an increase of $0.29 billion in February, while automotive exports declined $0.82 billion after inching higher $0.19 billion in February.

Volumes increased by 2.5% and prices by 1.3%. Exports of those products rose 9.5 percent to $95.6 billion while imports increased 6.2 to $106.7 billion. Imports had risen in recent months on higher oil prices.

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But a four-year record for Japanese imports, valued at $13.3 billion, saw the U.S. deficit with that country hit its highest level since April 2008 at $7.6 billion. The data agency said sales overseas of so-called other food products led the increase, in particular shipments of yellow peas and red lentils to India. Exports and imports both grew by 7.1%.

Offsetting that gain was a 1.8% drop in the auto-related exports, to C$7.72 billion.

President Donald Trump told Reuters that he was "psyched" to terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico, but changed his mind after their leaders asked for it to be renegotiated instead.

"This is a solid report", said Benjamin Reitzes, Canadian rates and macro strategist at BMO Capital Markets.

Exports to the United States, which accounted for 73.1 percent of all Canadian exports in March, edged up by 0.1 percent while imports increased by 2.0 percent. The U.S. also imposed last week a new 20% tariff on imports of Canadian lumber, alleging the Canadian government was subsidizing its domestic producers.

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