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Economy in Brief

U.S. Trade Deficit Deepens; Shortfall with China Sets Record
by Tom Moeller  November 14, 2013

The U.S. foreign trade deficit increased sharply to $41.8 billion in September compared to a little-revised $38.7 billion during August. The latest figure was the deepest since May. A $39.0 billion deficit had been expected in the Action Economics survey. Exports slipped 0.2% (+1.1% y/y) following little change during August. Imports jumped 1.2% (1.0% y/y) after no change in August. In chained 2009 dollars, the deficit in goods also deteriorated sharply to $50.4 billion, the deepest since May. Real exports fell 0.7% (+1.2% y/y) while real imports gained 1.3% (1.9% y/y).

By country, the September trade deficit in goods with mainland China reached a record $30.5 billion. Exports to China rose 9.5% y/y while U.S. imports gained 5.8% y/y. With Japan, the deficit improved to $5.5 billion. U.S. exports fell 9.2% y/y and imports ticked up 0.7% y/y. The deficit with the European Union declined to $8.0 billion. U.S. exports increased 6.8% y/y while imports rose 4.8% y/y.

The total real value of U.S. nonauto consumer goods exports fell 1.3% (+2.5% y/y) while real capital goods exports were off 0.3% (-0.8% y/y). The constant dollar value of auto exports slipped 0.1% (+10.1% y/y). Exports of foods, feeds & beverages jumped 13.1% (-1.8% y/y). Services exports declined 0.3% (5.0% y/y). Travel exports were off 2.2% (+6.0% y/y). Passenger fares declined 2.1% (+4.0% y/y).

The value of U.S. petroleum imports gained 2.7% (-4.0% y/y) but the quantity of petroleum product imports was off 4.4% (-5.4% y/y). The price of crude oil increased further m/m to $102.00 yet remained down from the $109.69 high reached last year. Real imports less petroleum gained 1.2% in September (3.4% y/y). In constant dollars, imports of automotive vehicles jumped 3.3% (12.6% y/y) while real capital goods imports gained 1.7% (4.5% y/y). Nonauto consumer goods imports rose 1.5% (0.3% y/y) but imports of foods, feeds & beverages were off 1.1% (+2.2% y/y). Services imports slipped 0.3% (+1.5% y/y). Travel imports declined 2.0% (+3.3% y/y) but passenger fares gained 0.5% (5.2% y/y).

The international trade data can be found in Haver's USECON database. Detailed figures are available in the USINT database. The expectations figures are from the Action Economics consensus survey, which is carried in the AS1REPNA. 

Foreign Trade (Current Dollars) Sep Aug Jul Y/Y 2012 2011 2010
U.S. Trade Deficit $-41.8 $-38.7B $38.6B $41.6B
(9/12)
$534.7B $556.8B $499.4B
Exports (%) -0.2 -0.0 -0.6 1.1 4.6 14.5 16.9
Imports 1.2 0.0 1.3 1.0 2.8 13.9 19.5
  Petroleum 2.7 -0.9 7.2 -4.0 -5.6 30.7 32.5
  Nonpetroleum goods 1.3 0.1 0.7 2.1 5.2 12.1 20.8
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