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January’s trade deficit  shrunk $8.7 billion to $51.1 billion, recovering from December’s unexpectedly large $59.8 billion deficit to return close to November’s $49.3 billion value. Goods imports fell $6.5 billion to $210.7, with significant drops for capital goods (-$3 billion) and crude oil (-$1.4 billion), while goods exports increased +$1.8 billion to $137.4 billion, with a drop in civilian aircraft exports (-$1.3 billion) taking away from increases for foods (+$1.3 billion) and automobiles (+$1.2 billion). Service exports edged up +$0.2 billion to $70.0 billion while imports fell -$0.3 billion to $47.8 billion. The deficit with China decreased -$5.5 billion primarily due to a -$5.7 billion drop in Chinese imports, while a -$5.8 billion drop in Canadian imports flipped a -$0.7 billion deficit to a +$1.4 billion surplus.
The final estimate of GDP for the fourth quarter  of 2018 was revised downward from 2.6% to 2.2%, bringing 2018 yearly GDP to 2.9% compared to 2.2% for 2017. The downward revisions for the quarter were primarily due to lowered estimates for consumer spending, government spending, and nonresidential fixed investments. The acceleration of yearly GDP from 2017 to 2018 was based on yearly increases in nonresidential fixed investment, private inventories, government spending, exports, and consumer spending, with offsets from a downturn in residential investment, which has been negative for every quarter of 2018. The report also included corporate profits, which listed yearly pre-tax profits up +7.4% to $2.311 trillion, and after tax profits up +14.3% with corporate taxes falling -29% to $234.7 billion.
After tax disposable personal income  dropped -0.2% in January as a result of decreases in dividend income, farm income and interest income, but rebounded +0.2% in February primarily due to increases in wages and proprietors’ income. Outlays for financial services and insurance helped push January’s spending on services up by +$20.8 billion, but a drop in new motor vehicle purchases led goods spending to a -$7.7 billion drop, limiting the overall increase to +$15.6 billion (+0.1%), while the personal savings rate slipped from 7.7% to 7.5%. Overall prices dropped -0.1% for the month, but core prices, which exclude food and energy were up +0.1%. On a yearly basis, prices were up +1.4%, and yearly core inflation was +1.8%, dropping below the Federal Reserve’s +2.0% target.
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