‘We may be now seeing a return of the ‘twin deficits’ that we saw in the 1980s and the 2000s’. – Jeffrey Frankel, Harvard University
The US trade deficit dropped more than expected in December after two straight months of increases amid higher exports. The Commerce Department reported the country’s trade gap narrowed 3.2% to $44.3 billion in the reported month, following November’s upwardly revised deficit of 45.7 billion, while market analysts held expectations for a decrease to $45.0 billion. The December improvement was driven by stronger exports that posted a 2.7% monthly increase to $190.7 billion, the highest level since April 2015. Advanced technology goods were the main contributor to export growth. However, US exports remained under pressure from the strong Dollar, which rose 4.4% against other major currencies in 2016. The data showed shipments to the EU climbed 10.1%, with exports to Germany advancing 12.4%. The US President Donald Trump accused the EU’s largest economy of using the weak Euro to exploit the US. Meanwhile, imports of goods and services jumped 1.5% to $235.0 billion in December, the highest since March 2015. The key drivers of import growth were attributable to higher oil prices and stronger domestic demand. Separately, the JOLTS monthly report released on Tuesday showed job opening in the US totaled 5.50 million in December, slightly down from November’s revised 5.51 million and below a 5.56 million market forecast.