U.S. trade deficit shrank more than expected in March as imports plunge outpaced a decline in exports.
The deficit gap narrowed 13.9 percent to $40.4 billion, making it the smallest since February 2015, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.
Merchandise imported declined 3.6 percent as American companies strived to get inventories in line with demand experienced in the first-quarter of the year. Exports fell for the fifth time in six months as soft global sales continue to undermine exports.
“The most troubling thing was in the consumer sector — we’re not exactly sure what’s going on there and whether it’s sort of a one-off effect,” in terms of the slump in imports, Jay Bryson, global economist at Wells Fargo Securities LLC, in Charlotte, North Carolina, said before the report.
Still, “I think you’re going to see import growth outpace export growth as you go forward, and therefore trade will continue to be a modest headwind to growth in the U.S.,” he said.
In March, Imports fell to $217.1 billion from 225.1 billion recorded in February.The smallest since February 2011. The drop in imports was broad-based and includes consumer goods, industrial supplies and capital equipment.
Exports also decreased 0.9 percent from $178.2 billion to $176.6 billion.
Oil and Gas Dealers Threaten Withdrawal as 70% of Downstream Businesses Collapse
The downstream oil sector in Nigeria faces a looming crisis as oil and gas dealers, represented by the Natural Oil and Gas Suppliers Association of Nigeria (NOGASA), issue a stern warning of potential service withdrawal.
In a recent resolution following their executive committee meeting in Abuja, NOGASA expressed grave concerns over the collapse of approximately 70% of businesses in the industry due to the harsh operating environment.
President of NOGASA, Benneth Korie, highlighted the dire situation, emphasizing the challenges faced by oil marketers in funding operations amidst soaring bank interest rates.
Korie underscored the overwhelming burden faced by operators who are compelled to acquire funds at exorbitant interest rates upwards of 30%, exacerbating financial strain and hindering business viability.
The primary demand voiced by NOGASA is the pegging of the foreign exchange rate at N750/$ to facilitate refinery operations and stimulate the production of refined products domestically.
Failure to address these pressing issues, Korie warned, could result in the withdrawal of services by NOGASA’s over 200 members starting from the next month.
The downstream oil crisis coincides with heightened anticipation for the release of refined petroleum products from the Dangote and Port Harcourt refineries, seen as critical for alleviating supply shortages nationwide.
However, amidst forex crises and inflationary pressures, operators in the oil and gas sector confront mounting economic challenges, necessitating urgent government intervention.
As Nigeria navigates through turbulent economic waters, stakeholders eagerly await decisive action from authorities to salvage the downstream oil sector from imminent collapse and avert potential disruptions in fuel supply chains.
Developers Reject Federal Government’s Cement Price Reduction Agreement
Nigerian Breweries Records $99 Million Foreign Exchange Loss, CEO Reveals
Nigerian Breweries, a subsidiary of Heineken NV, has faced a setback as it disclosed a $99 million foreign exchange loss in its recent financial report.
The revelation was made by Hans Essaadi, the CEO of Nigerian Breweries Plc, during an investor call held in Lagos.
Essaadi attributed the loss to a myriad of economic challenges gripping Nigeria, including the drastic devaluation of the naira and cash scarcity resulting from the nation’s demonetization program.
He explained that the mainstream lager market witnessed a significant decline due to consumers’ inability to afford products like Goldberg after a hard day’s work.
The naira’s depreciation, losing approximately 70% of its value against the dollar since June, has exacerbated inflation to almost 30% in January.
These economic upheavals have placed immense strain on household incomes, especially in a nation where a significant portion of the population lives in extreme poverty.
Despite recording a 9% increase in revenue to 599.6 billion naira, Nigerian Breweries reported a staggering net loss of 106 billion naira for the fiscal year 2023, a stark contrast to the 13.18 billion naira profit from the previous year.
In response to the ongoing challenges, Nigerian Breweries aims to source more raw materials locally to mitigate foreign exchange risks.
The company has also implemented higher product prices effective February 19th to navigate through the turbulent economic landscape.
Despite the bleak financial report, Essaadi affirmed Nigerian Breweries’ commitment to weathering the storm, expressing confidence in the company’s portfolio, processes, and personnel to navigate the challenging market conditions ahead.
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