Maersk container shipThe U.S. international trade balance, or the trade deficit, came in largely in line with expectations for the month of March. It was -$40.4 billion, up from the -$42.3 billion in February (revised to -$41.9 billion) and slightly under the consensus estimate of -$40.5 billion from Bloomberg.

It turns out that the non-petroleum exports hit the highest level on record for March. Some $122.7 billion of non-petroleum goods were sent out of the United States in March. Is this a sign that global demand is starting to return?

Demand was led by autos and capital goods, and was up 2.7% from the prior month. Exports in total were $193.9 billion, and imports in March were $234.3 billion. The Commerce Department said:

In March, the goods deficit decreased $0.6 billion from February to $60.7 billion, and the services surplus increased $0.9 billion from February to $20.4 billion. Exports of goods increased $3.7 billion to $135.1 billion, and imports of goods increased $3.1 billion to $195.8 billion. Exports of services increased $0.2 billion to $58.8 billion, and imports of services decreased $0.7 billion to $38.4 billion. The goods and services deficit increased $3.8 billion from March 2013 to March 2014. Exports were up $9.2 billion, or 5.0 percent, and imports were up $13.0 billion, or 5.9 percent.

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