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The Atlanta Fed's macroblog provides commentary on economic topics including monetary policy, macroeconomic developments, financial issues and Southeast regional trends.

Authors for macroblog are Dave Altig and other Atlanta Fed economists.


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April 12, 2006


The Deficits Move in Opposite Directions -- For Now

From Bloomberg:

The dollar touched a more than one week high against the euro and strengthened versus the yen after the U.S. trade deficit narrowed more than forecast in February. The trade gap, the amount by which imports exceed exports, fell 4.1 percent $65.7 billion from a record $68.6 billion in January, led by a decline in Chinese imports...

A separate report showed the U.S. budget deficit gap widened last month to $85.5 billion in March, from $71.2 billion in the same month last year.

So, one deficit rises and the other falls?  Maybe not.  Both Brad Setser and The Nattering Naybob point out that China's trade surplus grew in March, on a strong expansion in exports.  And Menzie Chinn notes that the March (and April) surge in oil prices does not bode well for sustaining the February decline in U.S. imports.  The guessing is that when the March trade numbers are revealed, the two deficits may look like twins again.

Note: Calculated Risk has more on the budget deficit.

UPDATE: The Skeptical Speculator also makes reference to the March surplus in China, among many other things.

April 12, 2006 in Data Releases, Deficits, Trade Deficit | Permalink

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WRAPUP 1-U.S. March retail sales up, jobless claims rise
Thu Apr 13, 2006 9:17 AM ET
Printer Friendly | Email Article | Reprints | RSS (Page 1 of 2)
By Glenn Somerville
WASHINGTON, April 13 (Reuters) - U.S. retail sales rebounded modestly in March from a February dip while new claims for unemployment benefits, while up, still pointed to a healthy job market, government reports on Thursday showed.

The Commerce Department said overall retail sales rose 0.6 percent last month after a revised 0.8 percent February fall that had been reported as a much steeper 1.4 percent drop.

New-car sales were up 1.6 percent last month, partly recovering from a 2.8 percent drop in February.

Sales excluding new cars and parts rose 0.4 percent in March following a revised 0.3 percent decrease in February that had been reported as a 0.6 percent fall.

The March figures were in line with Wall Street forecasts for an overall 0.5 percent sales rise and for a 0.4 percent gain excluding cars and parts.

Separately, the Labor Department said new claims for unemployment pay rose by an unexpectedly large 12,000 last week to 313,000.

But a broader, four-week moving average that smooths weekly volatility to give a better picture of underlying conditions told a different story, contracting 1,500 last week to 307,500.

Posted by: anon | April 13, 2006 at 12:39 PM

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