Initial Claims Lowest Since Jan 2008 Levels; Import Plunge Leads To Much Lower Trade Deficit
Mission Accomplished it would seem. Initial claims printed at its lowest since January 2008 at 324k. This is well below expectations of 345k - the biggest beat since September 2011. California and New York dominated the data with over 70,000 claims between them (though both dropped from last week). Michigan added the most from last month's rolls with 'educational service indurtsy' job losses affecting MA, CT, and RI. Emergency Unemployment Claims appears to have shaken off its statistical aberration of 2013 and is down a modest 12k this week.
Elsewhere, in trade news that total March exports of $184.3 billion and imports of $223.1 billion resulted in a goods and services deficit of $38.8 billion, down from $43.6 billion in February, revised, and far below the expected number of $42.3 billion. This was driven, however, not by a jump in exports or economic strength, which declined by $1.7 billion in February, but due to a plunge in imports of $6.5 billion, typically confirming economic weakness, mostly of consumer and capital goods as the US economy slowed substantially in March.
In March, the goods deficit decreased $4.6 billion from February to $56.1 billion, and the services surplus increased $0.2 billion from February to $17.3 billion. Exports of goods decreased $1.8 billion to $130.3 billion, and imports of goods decreased $6.4 billion to $186.5 billion. Exports of services increased $0.1 billion to $53.9 billion, and imports of services decreased $0.1 billion to $36.6 billion.
Unlike before, the import crash was not driven by a reduction in crude.
The February to March decrease in imports of goods reflected decreases in consumer goods ($3.4 billion); capital goods ($1.5 billion); industrial supplies and materials ($1.4 billion); and automotive vehicles, parts, and engines ($0.8 billion). An increase occurred in other goods ($0.9 billion). Foods, feeds, and beverages were virtually unchanged.
The February to March decrease in exports of goods reflected decreases in foods, feeds, and beverages ($1.1 billion); automotive vehicles, parts, and engines ($0.3 billion); industrial supplies and materials ($0.3 billion); capital goods ($0.3 billion); and consumer goods ($0.3 billion). An increase occurred in other goods ($0.2 billion).
Broken down by geographic sector, the biggest collapse from February in imports occured with China, where the deficit plunged from $23.4 billion to $17.9 billion. We don't even dare to match this number with what China reports its exports to the US were. We are confident it will be a ridiculous comp. Net imports from the EU rose modestly from $8.8 billion to $9.9 billion.
Finally, looking at the effectiveness of Abenomics, and the net Japanese trade deficit, imports from Japan rose from $5.9 billion to $6.6 billion. So much for that export renaissance, at least as far as exports to the US are concerned.
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