In July, the US trade balance showed a sharp narrowing in the deficit, to the lowest level since April 2011. The trade deficit slowed from a revised $51.6 billion to $44.8 billion, while the consensus was looking for a more moderate decline to $51 billion. The details show that exports rose significantly (by 3.6% M/M), while imports dropped slightly (by 0.2% M/M). The strong boost in exports was due to record ship-ments to South and Central America and increased demand from China. The decline in imports on the contrary, was entirely due to the oil sector, where lower price for oil and lower volume of crude oil imports were noted for July. Excluding petroleum, im-ports rose by 1.3% M/M. Nevertheless, the trade deficit ex-petroleum narrowed too, falling from a $22.17 billion to $19.21 billion. In the course of the second quarter, the real trade balance deteriorated significantly. This July figure is significantly stronger than the average of the second quarter, boding well for third quarter GDP that might be supported by positive net exports.
In the week ended the 3rd of September, US initial jobless claims rose from an up-wardly revised 412 000 (earlier reported as 409 000) to 414 000, while the consen-sus was looking for a decline to 405 000. The less volatile four-week moving average moved further up, rising from 411 000 to 414 750. The Labour Department added that there was no impact from the hurricane Irene. This outcome is slightly disappointing and provides further evidence that the labour market conditions remain weak, with claims struggling to fall below the important 400 000-level. Continuing claims, which are reported with an extra week lag, surprised on the up-side too. In the week ended the 27th of August, continuing claims fell by 30 000, from an upwardly adjusted 3 747 000 to 3 717 000, while a decline to 3 706 000 was fore-cast.