Exports to recover in U.S. as global growth firms

Exports from the U.S. are set to pick up in 2013 after slumping last quarter as global growth strengthens from Asia to Latin America, giving American manufacturers a boost.

Industries in which U.S. companies have a competitive advantage, including agriculture, medical supplies and aviation, will probably benefit the most from improving global demand, said Gary Hufbauer, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Peterson Institute for International Economics. That would brighten the outlook for corporations from General Electric Co. to Boeing Co. and Johnson & Johnson.

China reported economic growth accelerated in the fourth quarter for the first time in two years, raising prospects that a regional lift will fuel demand for U.S. goods. Developing nations are projected to grow 5.5% in 2013, more than last year, while Europe stabilizes, according to projections from the World Bank.

“The rest of the world is still growing, which means you should have higher exports,” said Maury Harris, chief economist at UBS Securities LLC in New York. “If China is improving, those neighbors are going to have better growth. And if their neighbors have better growth, then they’ll buy more stuff from us.”

Harris forecasts sales to overseas customers will be 6.7% higher in this year’s fourth quarter compared with the same period in 2012. The comparable gain in 2012 was an estimated 1.6%, reflecting a projected 5% slump at an annual rate from October through December.

Gaining Momentum

Foreign demand will grow throughout the year, advancing at a 6% rate from January through March and at a 7% pace in the subsequent three quarters, according to UBS.

Forecasts from the International Monetary Fund issued today were in line with those from the World Bank. The Washington- based fund projected developing economies will grow 5.5% this year, up from 5.1% in 2012. It cut its world growth estimate to 3.5%, less than the 3.6% forecast in October, as Europe is projected to shrink for a second year.

Stocks fell today, after benchmark indexes reached five-year highs, as lawmakers prepared to vote to temporarily suspend the federal borrowing limit until May 19 and investors watched corporate earnings. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index declined 0.1% to 1,490.94 at 10:53 a.m. in New York.

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