U.S. Trade Deficit Reaches New Record In September As Exports Tumble

Reflecting a sharp pullback in the value of exports, the Commerce Department released a report on Thursday showing the U.S. trade deficit widened much more than expected in the month of September.

The Commerce Department said the trade deficit widened to a record $80.9 billion in September from a revised $72.8 billion in August.

Economists had expected the deficit to widen to $74.1 billion from the $73.3 billion originally reported for the previous month.

The wider than expected trade deficit came as the value of exports tumbled by 3.0 percent to $207.6 billion in September after rising by 0.6 percent to $214.0 billion in August.

The steep drop in the value of exports partly reflected a substantial decrease in exports of industrial supplies and materials, including crude oil and other petroleum products.

Exports of capital goods also showed a notable decline, while exports of pharmaceutical preparations saw significant growth.

Meanwhile, the report showed the value of imports rose by 0.6 percent to a record high $288.5 billion in September after jumping by 1.3 percent to $286.8 billion in August.

Imports of capital goods and industrial supplies and materials saw notable growth, offsetting a steep drop in imports of automotive vehicles, parts and engines.

The report also showed the goods deficit widened to $98.2 billion in September from $89.2 billion in August, while the services surplus rose to $17.2 billion from $16.4 billion.

“Overall, the data confirm that net trade was a fairly sizable drag on GDP growth in the third quarter,” said Andrew Hunter, Senior U.S. Economist at Capital Economics.

He added, “While that should mostly unwind in the fourth quarter as energy exports recover and services exports pick up, overall growth in exports and imports will probably remain relatively subdued.”

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