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Economy in Brief

Trade Deficit Widens in November
by Sandy Batten  December 30, 2020

• Widening much larger than expected.

• Net exports to be drag on overall GDP growth in Q4.

• Export growth slows while import gain accelerates.

The advance estimate of the U.S. trade deficit in goods widened to $84.8 billion in November from $80.4 billion in October, revised from $80.3 billion. The Action Economics Forecast Survey expected an $81.5 billion deficit. Exports edged up 0.8% m/m (-7.5% y/y) after a 3.0% rise in October while imports rose 2.6% m/m (6.2% y/y) on top of a 2.3% m/m gain in October. The continued widening of the deficit in November points to net exports being a further drag on overall GDP growth in Q4.

The sluggishness in exports reflected a 1.1% m/m (-7.3% y/y) decline in exports of automotive vehicles and parts and a 0.7% m/m (-14.4% y/y) drop capital goods exports excluding autos. By contrast, exports of foods and feeds jumped up 4.3% m/m (19.9% y/y) in November. The continued strong gain in imports in November was led by a 6.7% m/m (17.6% y/y) surge in imports of nonfood consumer goods, a 2.9% m/m (-4.5% y/y) rise in industrial supplies, and a 2.0% m/m (4.7% y/y) gain in capital goods exports.

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 (Customs Value $) Nov Oct Sep Nov Y/Y 2019 2018 2017
U.S. Trade Deficit ($ bil.) -84.82 -80.42 -79.36 -64.72
-854.37 -872.04 -792.40
Exports (% Chg) 0.8 3.0 3.2 -7.5 -1.4 7.7 6.6
Imports (% Chg) 2.6 2.3 0.0 6.2 -1.6 8.5 7.0

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

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