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US Trade and Jobs Report Shows Mixed Bag

On Thursday, May 30, 2024, the USDA Economic Research Service released its May 2024 Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade. The report is unveiled quarterly. “U.S. agricultural exports in fiscal year (FY) 2024 are projected at $170.5 billion, unchanged from the February forecast,” the report stated. “Higher exports of livestock and dairy, as well as increased ethanol sales largely offset reductions in grains and feeds, oilseeds, and horticultural products.”

The report went on: “U.S. agricultural imports in FY 2024 are forecast at $202.5 billion, a $1.5 billion increase from the February projection that is predominately driven by higher horticultural products as well as livestock and dairy imports.” That means that the U.S. trade deficit will widen to $32 billion. That is the largest deficit in nearly two years, widening the full-year trade gap to $99.4 billion.

Meanwhile, U.S. initial jobless claims were reported at 219,000 – slightly higher than the 218K anticipated. Meanwhile, the prior week initial jobless claims were revised up to 216K from 215K. The four-week moving average of initial jobless claims now sits at 222.5K compared to 220.00K in the prior week.

Earlier this month, the US labor market was still holding strong. Jobless claims had fallen marginally while there are continuing claims to rise to 1.794 million in total. The report stated that job growth had slowed due to the Federal Reserve interest rate hikes in 2022 and 2023. Fortunately, layoffs have also remained low.