- The U.S. international trade gap in May narrowed, thanks largely to lower oil prices. The trade deficit narrowed to $48.7 billion from $50.6 billion in April. Exports rose 0.2 percent, following a 0.9 percent decline in April. Imports fell 0.7 percent after a 1.6 percent drop the prior month. The narrowing in the trade gap was led by the petroleum goods gap which shrank sharply to $24.9 billion from $28.1 billion in April. In contrast, the non-petroleum goods deficit expanded a little to $37.9 billion in May from $36.7 billion the month before. The services surplus improved to $14.8 billion from $14.6 billion.
- Initial jobless claims rose 8,000 in the July 28 week in what was the smallest change after three weeks of severe volatility tied to adjustment for summer auto retooling. The latest level of 365,000 was right in line with the 4-week average of 365,500 which offers an interesting gauge for the full-month July to June comparison, and this comparison, which was down more than 20,000 from the late June average, points to improvement in the labor market. Continuing claims in data for the July 21 week fell 19,000 to 3.272 million with the 4-week average down 11,000 to 3.299 million for the lowest reading since early June.
Import and Export Prices:
- Import prices fell a steep 2.7 percent in June following a downwardly revised 1.2 percent plunge in May and a 0.1 percent decline in April. The decline in June was the steepest of the recovery. The export side, where the headline in minus 1.7 percent, was very similar with a 4.0 percent monthly plunge in agricultural exports a heavy negative.
- The U.S. Treasury monthly budget report showed a June deficit at $59.7 billion. Receipts were up while growth in spending was down, making for a 6.8 percent decline in the nation's deficit 9 months into government's fiscal year. When excluding special factors, such as calendar timings for government payments, the deficit was down 12.7 percent. Looking ahead, the month of July historically shows a deficit for the month. Over the past 10 years, the average deficit for the month of July has been $72.2 billion and $103.6 billion over the past 5 years. The July 2011 deficit came in at $129.4 billion.