The U.S. trade deficit widened more than expected in January while architecture billings were slightly up in February.
Trade Deficit Widens
The U.S. trade deficit widened more than expected in January as a strong dollar and weak global demand helped to push exports to a more than five-and-a-half-year low, suggesting trade will continue to weigh on economic growth in the first quarter.
The Commerce Department said on Friday the trade gap increased 2.2% to $45.7 billion. December’s trade deficit was revised up to $44.7 billion from the previously reported $43.4 billion. Exports have declined for four straight months.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the trade deficit widening to $44.0 billion in January. When adjusted for inflation, the deficit increased to $61.97 billion from $60.09 billion in December.
ABI Up in February
The Architecture Billings Index saw a dip into negative terrain for the first time in five months in January, but inched back up in February with a small increase in demand for design services.
As an economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects an approximate nine-to-12 month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the February ABI score was 50.3, up slightly from the mark of 49.6 in the previous month. This score reflects a minor increase in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 59.5, up from a reading of 55.3 the previous month.