Following two months of widening, the May trade gap shrank to negative $26.0 billion, a better-than-expected result, but once again oil price changes and lingering weakness in the world economy can be seen in the data.

The May trade balance of negative $26.0 billion was an improvement from negative $28.8 billion in April, and the balance was the lowest since November 1999.

Exports jumped $1.9 billion as oil, chemicals, and related items rose. The price of crude was up almost 10% to an average of $51.21 a barrel, and this was apparently reflected immediately in the more finished petroleum products that the U.S. exports.

Imports were negative $0.9 billion as pharmaceuticals declined $1.2 billion. Crude oil and chemicals fell, and autos declined $238 million to a low since March 1996. These numbers reflect slack demand. Overall, imports of goods were their lowest since April 2004.

Services imports and exports also fell, as is usual in a weak economy. Services imports declined more, by negative $0.4 billion, mainly due to reduced travel.

— Market News International

Subscribe Now

Independent and authoritative analysis and perspective for the bond buying industry.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.