Mon, Jan 07, 2013 - Page 15 News List

US trade deficit expected to narrow, say analysts

Bloomberg

The trade deficit in the US probably narrowed in November last year as fuel imports dropped and exports rebounded, economists said before a report due this week.

The gap shrank to US$41.2 billion from October’s US$42.2 billion, according to the median forecast of 51 economists surveyed by Bloomberg before Friday’s figures from the US Department of Commerce. Another report the same day may show import prices were little changed last month.

Sustained job gains and the drop in oil prices that is helping to reduce the import bill are boosting the buying power of US households, giving the world’s largest economy a lift.

In addition, stabilization in global growth, led by a pickup in China, will probably keep propelling sales overseas for US companies such as Ford Motor Co.

“The export side of it just sort of swamps the import side this month,” RBC Capital Markets LLC chief US economist Tom Porcelli said. “Exports have been a sector of significant strength in the US.”

“That’s a story that could remain in place in 2013” given the recent rebound in global manufacturing, he added.

Manufacturing in China unexpectedly expanded last month at the fastest pace in 19 months, boosting optimism that a recovery in the world’s second-biggest economy is gaining traction, a report Monday last week showed.

The country’s economy may have rebounded after a seven-quarter slowdown as the government increased spending on infrastructure and accelerated investment-project approvals.

US manufacturers are selling more overseas as a result. The Tempe, Arizona-based Institute for Supply Management said its factory export gauge rose last month to a seven-month high. Commerce Department data show exports slumped in October by the most in almost four years.

Ford is among manufacturers anticipating a pickup in global demand to compliment higher US sales that have seen a boost as consumers replace lost or wrecked vehicles after Hurricane Sandy.

Ford, General Motors Co and Chrysler Group LLC posted vehicle sales gains last month that exceeded analysts’ estimates, industry reports showed last week.

“We expect global sales to grow this year supported by an ongoing recovery in the US as well as improving sales in China,” Ford Motor Co chief economist Ellen Hughes-Cromwick said on a conference call on Thursday.

“Gains in these markets are offset somewhat by the weakness in the European markets,” she said.

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