port elizabeth new jersey shipping containerPort Elizabeth, New Jersey

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The latest trade data are out.The deficit widened to $44.6 billion in January. Economists had only expected it to widen to $42.6 billion from $38.5 billion last month.

Much of this surprise is being attibuted to a 12.3 per cent jump in oil imports.

The petroleum deficit which widened to $24.3 billion from $18.6 billion.

Here’s Paul Ashworth of Capital Economics:

Exports fell by 1.2% m/m in January, partly reversing a 2.1% m/m surge the month before. Both the original spike and subsequent drop back were driven by a temporary jump in industrial supplies, which was largely due to volatility in fuel oil exports. Imports increased by 1.8% m/m, with all of the gain due to an increase in the value of petroleum-related imports. However, the latter was largely due to a bounce back in the volume of petroleum-related imports rather than a rise in prices.

Ashworth adds that he expects this to be “neutral or slightly negative” to Q1 GDP growth.

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