The U.S. April trade data continue the story begun in March of shrinking volumes but a widening gap. This reflects rising oil prices and lingering weakness in the world economy.

The April trade balance was a $29.2 billion deficit after a revised $28.5 billion deficit in March, as imports fell $2.2 billion but exports declined a larger $2.8 billion. As trade shrank, exports fell to their lowest level since January 2006 and imports to their lowest since September 2004, and the deficit rose for a second month.

The trade gap remains at less than half its pre-recession levels — the minus-$59.4 billion posted in October 2008.

April exports of industrial supplies fell $1.253 billion as gold, coal and fuels fell, and exports of capital goods fell $1.1 billion as machinery declined. In addition, auto exports posted a negative $164 million and pharmaceuticals were down $264 million.

— Market News International

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