The Department of Commerce reported:
The U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, through the Department of Commerce, announced today that the goods and services deficit was $40.4 billion in March, down $6.5 billion from $47.0 billion in February, revised. March exports were $176.6 billion, $1.5 billion less than February exports. March imports were $217.1 billion, $8.1 billion less than February imports.
The trade deficit was smaller than the consensus forecast of $41.4 billion.
The first graph shows the monthly U.S. exports and imports in dollars through March 2016.
Both imports and exports decreased in March.
Exports are 6% above the pre-recession peak and down 5% compared to March 2015; imports are 6% below the pre-recession peak, and down 9% compared to March 2015.
The second graph shows the U.S. trade deficit, with and without petroleum.
Oil imports averaged $27.68 in March, up from $27.48 in February, and down from $46.47 in March 2015. The petroleum deficit has generally been declining and is the major reason the overall deficit has declined a little since early 2012.
The trade deficit with China decreased to $20.9 billion in March, from $31.2 billion in March 2015 (there was a surge in imports last year in March -as ships were unloaded – following the West Coast port slowdown). The deficit with China is a substantial portion of the overall deficit.