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Economy in Brief

U.S. Trade Deficit Shrinks As Exports Strengthen
by Tom Moeller  December 4, 2013

The U.S. foreign trade deficit improved to $40.6 billion compared to a revised $43.0 billion in September, last month reported as $41.8 billion. A $40.1 billion deficit had been expected in the Action Economics survey. Exports jumped 1.8% (+1.1% y/y) following three months of slight decline. Imports nudged up 0.4% (3.6% y/y) after a 1.6% September increase. In chained 2009 dollars, the deficit in goods eased to $48.3 billion. Real exports jumped 3.2% (8.4% y/y) while real imports gained 0.4% (5.7% y/y).

The October trade deficit in goods with mainland China eased from the record to $28.9 billion. Exports to China jumped 20.6% y/y while U.S. imports gained 4.1% y/y. With Japan, the deficit deepened to $6.4 billion. U.S. exports fell 3.3% y/y and imports were down 6.4% y/y. The deficit with the European Union grew sharply to $14.3 billion. U.S. exports increased 6.7% y/y while imports rose 15.5% y/y.

The total real value of U.S. nonauto consumer goods exports jumped 6.8% (6.4% y/y) while real capital goods exports nudged up 0.6% (3.5% y/y). The constant dollar value of auto exports fell 1.6% (+9.7% y/y). Exports of foods, feeds & beverages increased 5.3% (8.5% y/y). Services exports improved 0.7% (5.0% y/y). Travel exports rose 0.8% (10.9% y/y) as the dollar's low value encouraged visits to the U.S. Passenger fares gained 2.3% (7.0% y/y).

The value of U.S. petroleum imports gained 1.5% (-7.3% y/y) as the quantity of petroleum product imports rose 5.7% (-5.1% y/y). The price of crude oil backed off m/m to $99.96 and remained down from the $109.69 high reached last year. Real imports less petroleum gained 0.2% in October (8.2% y/y). In constant dollars, imports of automotive vehicles declined 3.8% (+7.8% y/y) while real capital goods imports were off 0.4% (+4.3% y/y). Nonauto consumer goods imports rose 1.1% (11.5% y/y) and imports of foods, feeds & beverages gained 2.5% (7.4% y/y). Services imports nudged up 0.7% (2.3% y/y). Travel imports improved 1.0% (+3.3% y/y) but passenger fares jumped 4.3% (9.9% 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) Oct Sep Aug Y/Y 2012 2011 2010
U.S. Trade Deficit $-40.6B $-43.0B $-38.9B $42.7B
(10/12)
$534.7B $556.8B $499.4B
Exports (%) 1.8 -0.1 -0.0 5.5 4.6 14.5 16.9
Imports 0.4 1.6 0.0 3.6 2.8 13.9 19.5
  Petroleum 1.5 2.7 -0.9 -7.3 -5.6 30.7 32.5
  Nonpetroleum goods 0.2 2.1 0.1 6.5 5.2 12.1 20.8
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