U.S. Trade Deficit in Goods Surges Again to a Record $107.6 Billion in Early 2022

Monday, February 28, 2022

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(Market Watch)

The numbers: The U.S. trade deficit jumped 7.1% in January to $107.6 billion and hit a new all-time high for the second month in a row, reflecting huge American appetite for imported goods such as autos and oil.

The deficit rose from a revised $100.5 billion in December.

Last year, the U.S. posted the highest trade deficit ever. The goods deficit topped $1 trillion for the very first time.

Key details: U.S. goods imports rose 1.8% in January to $262 billion — also a record.

Exports of U.S.-made goods slid 1.8% to $154.8 billion.

Part of the unusually sharp increase in the deficit in the past several months likely stems from U.S. ports trying to clear an unprecedented backlog of goods that have piled up in nearby warehouses or on ships waiting to unload.

Also in the report, the government said retail inventories jumped 1.9% and wholesale inventories climbed 0.8%. Higher inventories add to gross domestic product, the official scorecard of the U.S. economy.

The increase in inventories is likely to spur Wall Street economists to raise first-quarter GDP forecasts.

Big picture: The already high U.S. trade deficit exploded to a record high last year as the American economy rebounded rapidly from the pandemic while other countries lagged behind.

The result: A surge in imports and a slower recovery in exports.

The trade deficit is likely to remain near record levels until the rest of the global economy catches up to the U.S. and starts to buy more American-made products and services.

The Russian war on Ukraine now threatens to delay the global recovery.

Looking ahead: “The deficit is likely to remain elevated as pandemic effects continue for now,” said Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics. “But imports and exports should eventually rebalance once global economies come back online more completely.”

Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.49% and S&P 500 SPX, -0.24% were set to open sharply lower in Monday trades. Shares have been under pressure from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Category: US News, Economic News, International Trade

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