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Economy in Brief

U.S. Goods Trade Deficit Unexpectedly Expands in September
by Tom Moeller  October 26, 2022

• Deficit rise follows five consecutive months of decline.

• Exports decline for second straight month.

• Imports rise for first month in the last six.

The advance estimate of the U.S. international trade deficit in goods widened to $92.2 billion during September from an unrevised $87.3 billion in August. The increase brought it to the highest level in three months. The deficit reached a peak of $125.7 billion in March of this year. An $87.8 billion September deficit had been expected by the Action Economics Forecast Survey. Exports of goods fell 1.5% (+23.4% y/y) during September following a 0.7% August decline while imports rose 0.8% last month (12.9% y/y) after a 1.5% August shortfall.

The weakening in exports last month reflected a 14.0% drop (+7.8% y/y) in food & beverage exports which came after 1.3% increase in August. Industrial supplies & materials export weakened 3.1% (+38.1% y/y), off sharply for the third straight month. Exports of nonauto consumer goods exports eased 0.3% (+7.7% y/y) in September after rising 6.4% in August. Working higher, exports of autos & auto parts rose 5.0% (21.1% y/y) following a 7.7% August decline. Capital goods exports strengthened 2.3% (16.2% y/y) after rising 0.6% in August while exports of "other" goods improved 1.0% (39.0% y/y), up strongly in eight of the last nine months.

The September import increase was led by a 4.4% rise (14.6% y/y) in capital goods imports that came after 1.5% weakening in August. Auto imports gained 1.9% (34.1% y/y) in September, the third straight month of strong increase. Nonauto consumer goods imports rose 1.4% (9.8% y/y) after edging 0.1% higher in August. Working 3.3% lower last month (+11.4% y/y) were industrial supplies & materials imports, following two straight months of deep decline. Foods, feeds & beverage imports weakened 1.3% (+10.3% y/y) following a 2.5% August rise. Imports of "other" goods fell 1.3% in September (-16.9% y/y), the fifth decline in six months.

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.

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