International Trade measures the difference between imports and exports of both tangible goods and services. The level of the international trade balance, as well as changes in exports and imports, indicate trends in foreign trade.
Why do Investors Care?
Changes in the level of imports and exports, along with the difference between the two (the trade balance) are a valuable gauge of economic trends here and abroad. Furthermore, the data can directly impact all the financial markets, but especially the foreign exchange value of the dollar.
Imports indicate demand for foreign goods and services here in the U.S. Exports show the demand for U.S. goods in overseas countries. The dollar can be particularly sensitive to changes in the chronic trade deficit run by the United States, since this trade imbalance creates greater demand for foreign currencies. The bond market is also sensitive to the risk of importing inflation. This report gives a breakdown of U.S. trade with major countries as well, so it can be instructive for investors who are interested in diversifying globally. For example, a trend of accelerating exports to a particular country might signal economic strength and investment opportunities in that country.