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Economy in Brief

U.S. Trade Deficit Deepens in September
by Tom Moeller  November 3, 2022

• Deficit reverses two months of narrowing.

• Imports rise and exports fall.

• Trade deficit with China narrows.

The U.S. foreign trade deficit in goods and services (BOP basis) increased to $73.3 billion in September from $65.7 billion in August, revised from $67.4 billion. The deficit remained below the $106.9 billion record in March. A $72.2 billion deficit had been expected in the Action Economics Forecast Survey. Exports declined 1.1% (+21.9% y/y) in September, the first monthly decline since January. Imports rose 1.5% (14.3% y/y) following three straight monthly declines.

The goods trade deficit (customs value) widened to $91.9 billion in September from $85.8 billion in August. Exports of goods fell 1.9% (+24.0% y/y) after a 0.1% gain in August. Exports of foods, feeds & beverages weakened 13.6% (+8.2% y/y) while exports of industrial supplies fell 3.0% (+39.4% y/y). Nonauto consumer goods exports eased 0.4% (+7.3% y/y). To the upside, auto exports jumped 5.1% (21.3% y/y) while capital goods exports rose 2.4% (16.4% y/y).

Imports of goods (customs value) rose 1.0% (13.1% y/y) following five consecutive monthly declines. Capital goods imports excluding autos jumped 4.6% (14.8% y/y). Auto imports increased 1.8% (33.6% y/y) in September while nonauto consumer goods imports rose 1.7% (10.1% y/y). Industrial supplies imports fell 2.9% (+11.8% y/y) and foods, feeds & beverage imports dropped 1.3% (+10.4% y/y).

Nonpetroleum goods imports increased 1.9% (12.4% y/y). Petroleum imports fell 7.9% (+21.1% y/y) with lower prices in September following a 12.8% August drop.

The services trade surplus declined to $19.5 in September from $20.5 billion in August. Total services exports rose 1.2% (15.9% y/y). Travel exports increased 5.0% (104.1% y/y) while charges for the use of intellectual property improved 0.1% (1.6% y/y). Financial services exports gained 0.8% (-0.6% y/y).

Imports of services increased 3.4% (18.4% y/y) in September. Travel imports strengthened 16.8% (81.1% y/y) while charges for the use of intellectual property jumped 1.2% (3.8% y/y). Financial services imports rose 0.3% (0.1% y/y).

The real (inflation-adjusted) goods trade deficit widened to $103.8 billion (chained 2012 dollars) in September from $97.1 billion August. Exports fell 0.8% (+15.7% y/y) while imports rose 2.1% (6.8% y/y). In Q3, a narrower trade deficit added 2.8 percentage points to economic growth last quarter.

The goods trade deficit with China narrowed to a seasonally adjusted $32.1 billion in September from $33.5 billion in August. Exports rose 10.5% y/y while imports increased 4.5% y/y. The trade deficit with Japan deepened to $5.2 billion in September from $3.6 billion in August. The goods trade deficit with the European Union widened to $16.0 billion from $13.5 billion in August.

The international trade data, including relevant data on oil prices, can be found in Haver's USECON database. Detailed figures on international trade are available in the USINT database. The expectations figures are from the Action Economics Forecast Survey in AS1REPNA.

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