From the National Association of Manufacturers:

* The U.S. trade deficit rose from $61.02 billion in November, the lowest since September 2020, to $67.42 billion in December. The trade deficit was highly volatile in 2022, ranging from the low seen in November to the record high seen in March ($106.40 billion).

* These wild swings were the result of supply chain disruptions, slowing global growth, strength in the U.S. dollar and petroleum prices. The monthly trade deficit averaged a record $79.01 billion in 2022, up from $54.50 billion and $70.42 billion in 2020 and 2021, respectively.

* The increased trade deficit in December stemmed from a reduction in goods exports (down from $171.08 billion to $168.14 billion, a 10-month low) that corresponded with higher goods imports (up from $254.28 billion to $258.78 billion). As a result, the goods trade deficit rose from $83.20 billion to $90.64 billion.

* At the same time, the service-sector trade surplus increased from $22.18 billion to $23.22 billion, a three-year high.

* U.S.-manufactured goods exports totaled $1,292.03 billion in 2022, using non-seasonally adjusted data, soaring 13.84% from $1,134.97 billion in 2021. Likewise, manufactured goods imports grew 13.63% from $2,460.41 billion in 2021 to $2,795.82 billion in 2022.   

* The Index of Consumer Sentiment rose from 64.9 in January to 66.4 in February, a 13-month high, according to preliminary data from the University of Michigan and Thomson Reuters. Assessments of current conditions improved strongly, buoyed by labor market strength and slowing inflation data. Expectations of future conditions slipped a little in February, however.

* Overall, while Americans remain uncertain about geopolitical events and the economy, it is encouraging to see consumer confidence trend in the right direction, even as sentiment remains lower than preferred.

* U.S. consumer credit outstanding rose 2.9% at the annual rate in December, slowing from 8.4% in November. Revolving credit, which includes credit cards and other credit lines, grew 7.3% in December, easing from 15.6% growth in November but remaining a solid figure.

* Even with some deceleration in the latest month, Americans have continued to be willing to take on new debt, helping to buoy increased consumer spending. Indeed, U.S. consumer credit outstanding has increased 7.8% over the past 12 months, with revolving credit soaring 14.8% year-over-year.

After seeing disappointing industrial production and retail sales at the end of last year, the data this week should provide signs of whether activity bounced back in January, both with consumer spending and for manufacturing production. In addition, pricing data are expected to show some continued moderation for both consumers and producers.


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