US trade deficit widens a bit — but deficit with China shrinks
Washington — The US trade deficit widened slightly more than expected in September, as rising exports of goods and services were offset by a jump in imports.
The Commerce Department said on Friday the trade gap increased 1.7% to $43.5bn. August’s trade deficit was revised higher, to $42.8bn from the previously reported $42.4bn.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the trade shortfall rising to $43.2bn in September.
When adjusted for inflation, the trade deficit was little changed at $62.2bn.
Trade added 0.41 percentage points to the economy’s 3% percent annualised growth rate in the third quarter. It was the third straight quarterly contribution to gross domestic product.
The department said while it could not isolate the impact of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria on the trade data, the effects were "embedded in source data".
In September, exports of goods and services increased 1.1% to $196.8bn, the highest level since December 2014. Goods exports were also the highest since December 2014, while exports of services hit a record high.
There were increases in exports of industrial supplies and materials. Exports of consumer goods, however, declined.
Exports to China fell 1.1%.
Imports of goods and services increased 1.2% to $240.3bn in September. Food imports were the highest on record, as were those of capital goods. Imports of non-petroleum imports were the highest since March 2015.
Imports of goods from China slipped 0.8%. As a result, the politically sensitive US-China trade deficit fell 0.7% to $34.6bn in September.