The nation's trade gap in goods came in slightly narrower than expected in March, at $64.8 billion vs Econoday expectations for $65.3 billion. More good news comes from a downward revision to February's gap which is revised nearly $1.0 billion lower to $63.9 billion.
The results should help net exports in tomorrow's first-quarter GDP report though the breakdown doesn't point to strength for cross-border trade. Exports fell 1.7 percent as both consumer goods and vehicles were down sharply. Lower oil prices during March also cut into exports, specifically industrial supplies which also fell sharply. Imports, likewise held down by lower oil prices, fell 0.7 percent but with consumer goods and capital goods, in inescapable signs of weak domestic demand, both down.
Trade has not been a plus for the U.S. economy and the outlook for the rest of the year, given slow improvement in foreign markets and talk of trade wars, is guarded. Advance data on inventories were also released with this report with wholesale inventories down 0.1 percent and retail inventories up 0.4 percent.