Today, the US Bureau of Economic Analysis released international trade data for April. Both US imports and exports fell 2.2% month-over-month to $257.6 billion and $206.8 billion, respectively. Although the trade deficit fell in dollar terms, it remained above the $50 billion mark. In fact, the trade deficit was 5.4% higher than April 2018’s deficit of $48.2 billion.
The fall in imports was primarily driven by lower imports of capital goods, especially semiconductors, aircraft engines, and computer accessories. Moreover, lower imports of cars and vehicle parts also contributed significantly to lower overall imports. A fall in the import of gems and diamonds as well as cell phones also significantly contributed to the overall fall in imports.
The iShares PHLX Semiconductor ETF (SOXX), which invests in semiconductor companies, was up 0.63% at 1:04 PM EDT. The ETF fell in early trading but recovered thereafter, possibly due to the release of the trade data.
The fall in exports was led by a $2.2 billion fall in aircraft exports. After the fatal crash of Ethiopian Airlines in March, Boeing (BA) grounded its 737 Max 8 model. The drop in exports was primarily the result of the indefinite suspension of the model. Exports of cars and spare parts also dropped in April.
The new tariffs came into play in May. Thus, this data doesn’t reflect the impact of the new tariffs. May’s data could show even more suppressed trade.