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Steel mill product trade deficit shrinks

Keywords: Tags  iron, steel, steel mill products, copper, aluminum, bauxite, trade balance, Gregory Daco IHS Global Insight

CHICAGO — The trade deficit between iron and steel mill product imports and exports, valued at $544 million, fell 20 percent in March after growing 11.5 percent in February as imports declined at more than twice the rate of exports, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The balance of trade in copper moved to a $76-million deficit in March from a $174-million surplus in February. For the first quarter, the red metal logged a $55-million deficit vs. a $915-million surplus in the year-ago quarter.

This put the first-quarter iron and steel mill products deficit at $1.8 billion, down 24 percent from nearly $2.4 billion in the same period last year.

U.S. exports of aluminum and alumina fell 1.9 percent month on month in March and declined 0.6 percent during the first quarter. Imports of bauxite and aluminum fell 7 percent and 8.8 percent in the same comparison.

Nickel imports were flat month on month but fell 18.5 percent year on year in the first quarter; zinc imports declined 3.8 percent month on month in March but rose almost 3 percent in the first quarter; and tin imports increased 5.5 percent in March and grew 16 percent during the quarter.

Total U.S. exports in March reached $184.3 billion while imports were $223.1 billion. This resulted in a trade deficit of $38.8 billion, down 11 percent from February’s $43.6-billion deficit.

The U.S. trade deficit with China, at $17.9 billion, fell 23.5 percent month on month in March to its lowest level since March 2010, according to Gregory Daco, senior principal economist for IHS Global Insight Inc., Lexington, Mass., noting that imports as a whole registered the largest monthly decline since February 2009.

Automotive vehicles, engine and parts exports and imports both declined month on month, by 2.7 and 3.1 percent, respectively. For the first quarter, exports rose 0.6 percent while imports fell 0.1 percent from levels seen in the same 2012 period.

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