We've got two important economic measures coming out today: the international trade balance (due at 8:30 AM) and consumer sentiment (due at 9:55 AM).
International trade is the bigger of the two measures, since it represents our trade surplus (unlikely) or deficit (probable). November had an unexpected improvement to a trade deficit of only $38.3 billion, but analysts are not particularly optimistic about December's possibilities. We're looking for a consensus estimate of a trade deficit that has expanded to $40.5 billion.
How did we do? Well, the US Census Bureau reports that the December trade deficit expanded to $40.6 billion, which technically misses expectations. But not by a lot, so the markets probably will not get bent out of shape about that. Drilling down, we learn that:
- The goods trade deficit was $53.5 billion, an increase of $2.2 billion from November.
- The services trade surplus was $13 billion, effectively unchanged from November.
The total goods and services trade deficit for 2010 came in at $497.8 billion, an increase of $122.9 billion from 2009. This included a $44.8 billion deficit in industrial supplies and materials, a $37.5 billion deficit in automotive vehicles, parts and engines, a $39.3 billion deficit in consumer goods, and a $3.7 billion surplus in foods and beverages. Yes, that's right. The only thing we're exporting more of than we're importing is food.
Our trade deficit with Canada increased $6.1 billion to $21.8 billion, our trade deficit with China increased $46.2 billion to $273.1 billion, and our trade deficit with the European Union increased $18.6 billion to $79.8 billion.
There is a glimmer of optimism for consumer sentiment, however. January saw the index rise to 74.2, and a further 80 bps increase to 75.0 is expected for February. But we'll check on that here in about half an hour.