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Economy in Brief

U.S. Goods Trade Deficit Widens to New Record in November
by Sandy Batten  December 29, 2021

• Widely spread decline in exports.

• Widely spread increase in imports, led by industrial supplies.

The advance estimate of the U.S. international trade deficit in goods widened to $97.78 billion in November, a new monthly record, from $83.20 billion in October. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected a much smaller widening of the deficit to $86.3 billion. Exports fell 2.1% m/m (+22.2% y/y) in November following their 11.0% m/m jump in October. Imports increased 4.7% m/m (+19.1% y/y), making up for meager 0.8% and 0.9% monthly gains in October and September, respectively. The sharp widening of the deficit in November essentially offset the marked narrowing of the deficit in October. So, for the first two months of the fourth quarter, the goods trade deficit is on course to be a neutral factor in fourth quarter's GDP.

By end-use category, the decline in exports in November was widely spread with only exports of foods, feeds and beverages posting a monthly increase (+4.3% m/m). Exports of industrial supplies fell 2.3% m/m; capital goods exports were down 3.0% m/m; exports of automotive vehicles and parts declined 2.3% m/m; nonauto consumer goods exports dropped 2.1% m/m; and other exports slumped 7.2% m/m. Each of these categories had posted meaningful monthly increases in October.

The November increase in imports was also widely spread across end-use categories and was led by a 10.0% m/m jump in imports of industrial supplies and materials (which include petroleum products) following a 0.9% m/m decline in October. Imports of foods, feeds and beverages rose 3.4% m/m (+1.9% m/m in October); capital goods exports edged up 0.3% m/m after a 0.7% m/m drop in October; imports of automotive vehicles and parts increased 4.5% m/m on top of a 5.7% monthly gain in October; nonauto consumer goods imports rose 4.5% m/m following a 1.5% increase in October; and other imports jumped up 6.5% m/m versus 1.5% m/m in October.

The advance international trade data can be found in Haver's USECON database. The expectation figure is from the Action Economics Forecast Survey, which is in AS1REPNA.

Advance U.S. Foreign Trade in Goods (Census Basis) Nov Oct Sep Nov Y/Y 2020 2019 2018
U.S. Trade Balance ($ bil.) -97.78 -83.20 -97.01 -85.40 (11/20) -911.06 -850.92 -870.36
Exports (% Chg) -2.1 11.0 -4.7 22.2 -13.3 -1.4 7.7
Imports (% Chg) 4.7 0.8 0.9 19.1 -6.3 -1.7 8.4

Note: Current month is based on Advance Trade data; Previous months reflect revised data from International Trade release.

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