June Trade Deficit Posts Biggest Rise in 1-1/2 Years

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The record mark for exports to the United States comes at a time of friction in global trade.

The U.S. trade deficit in June widened by $3.2 billion and Trump's own policies could be to blame.

In May, a rush by Chinese importers to beat Beijing's looming counter-tariffs led to a surge in United States exports of crude oil and soybeans, temporarily driving down the deficit and boosting GDP growth in the April-June period.

A dip in auto exports and rising oil prices in June drove the increase in the gap between United States imports and exports, the Commerce Department reported Friday.

Economists at Barclays see Friday's report as a harbinger of things to come, as the tax cuts boosting the USA economy will continue to grow imports while exports growth is likely to slow as firms deal with the impact of tariffs. Yields on 2-year government bonds rose to 2.1 per cent, touching the highest in nearly a decade.

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Exports to countries other than the United States increased 8.7 per cent in June to a record $13.6 billion.

The gap widened 7.3 percent to $46.3 billion from a revised $43.2 billion in the prior month, Commerce Department data showed Friday. "The narrowing to the smallest deficit since January 2017 was in large part due a surge in exports to an alltime high".

On the other hand, it said shipments to the USA of autos - on which the US launched a formal investigation in June to consider tariffs - were the biggest contributor to June's growth in exports to the USA market.

"Canada's merchandise trade deficit narrowed from C$2.7bn in May to C$0.6bn in June".

Meanwhile, imports from the United States were up 0.3 per cent to $32.9 billion, resulting in Canada's trade merchandise trade surplus with the US rising to $4.1 billion. Canada's non-U.S. trade deficit shrank to $4.7-billion from $6.1-billion.

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Total exports rose 9.2 per cent in June compared to the same month previous year.

The result could weigh on revised calculations of second quarter growth, which President Donald Trump hailed as a key achievement of his economic policies last week after it was reported as the strongest GDP increase in almost four years. Energy exports were up 7.1 per cent month over month, while energy imports were down 15.1 per cent.

"But the first indications for the month suggest that there could be some growth left to come in the second quarter, upgrading the odds of a likely Bank of Canada rate hike in the coming months". Net foreign trade added 1.1 percentage point to GDP growth in the April to June period, Pantheon Macroeconomics estimates.

In the second quarter, the US economy grew at an annualized rate of 4.1%, the fastest pace of growth since 2014.

The unexpected export performance has heightened expectations that the Bank of Canada will raise its interest rates next month.

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