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Economy in Brief

U.S. Trade Deficit Deteriorates as Exports Fall
by Tom Moeller  November 4, 2014

The U.S. foreign trade deficit in goods and services widened to $43.0 billion in September from a little-revised $40.0 billion in August. Expectations in the Action Economics Forecast Survey were for $40.0 billion. Exports fell 1.5% (+2.8% y/y), the first material decline since February. Imports remained unchanged overall (2.6% y/y). Nonpetroleum imports increased 0.4% while petroleum imports were off 3.2%. This decline reflected a fall in the per barrel price of crude oil to $92.54 versus $102.00 twelve months earlier. The value of energy-related petroleum imports declined 13.3% y/y and the quantity fell 4.8% y/y.

Exports of foods, feeds & beverages increased 12.3% (-1.7% y/y), but elsewhere exports were weak. Nonauto consumer goods exports declined 4.0% (+6.0% y/y) while capital goods exports fell 2.5% (+3.0% y/y). Automotive exports slipped 0.8% (+2.7% y/y). Services exports fell 0.7% (+2.9% y/y) but travel exports declined 1.7% (+5.5% y/y). Imports also nudged 0.1% lower (+2.5% y/y) as imports of industrial supplies & materials dropped 2.0% (-4.7% y/y). Automotive imports declined 1.9% (+0.9% y/y) while capital goods imports were off 1.8% (+6.5% y/y). Working the other way, imports of foods, feeds & beverages rose 0.9% (10.8% y/y) while nonauto consumer goods imports increased 4.2% (6.0% y/y). Services imports gained 0.5% (3.0% y/y) as travel imports nudged 0.3% higher (8.2% y/y).

By country, the trade deficit with China deepened sharply to a record $35.6 billion. Imports from China jumped 11.8% y/y while exports declined 2.0% y/y. The trade deficit with Japan deepened slightly to $5.3 billion. Exports to Japan fell 2.2% y/y and imports declined 3.3% y/y. The trade deficit with the European Union deepened slightly to $11.8 billion. Exports fell 2.8% y/y but imports increased 8.0% 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 Forecast Survey, which is carried in the AS1REPNA.

Foreign Trade (Current Dollars) Sep Aug Jul Y/Y 2013 2012 2011
U.S. Trade Deficit $43.0 bil $40.0 bil. $40.3 bil. $42.3 bil.
(9/13)
$476.4 bil. $537.6 bil. $548.6 bil.
Exports (%) -1.5 0.3 0.9 2.8 2.9 4.2 14.8
Imports 0.0 0.1 0.6 2.6 0.1 2.9 13.9
  Petroleum -3.2 -3.7 3.4 -6.1 -11.0 -5.5 30.7
  Nonpetroleum goods 0.4 0.8 0.2 6.2 2.0 5.2 12.1
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