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US trade gap widens in September as imports rise more than exports

The overall US trade gap widened slightly in September, according to Commerce Department data
The overall US trade gap widened slightly in September, according to Commerce Department data - Copyright GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File JUSTIN SULLIVAN
The overall US trade gap widened slightly in September, according to Commerce Department data - Copyright GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File JUSTIN SULLIVAN

The US trade deficit expanded in September on the back of a larger rise in imports than exports, according to government data released Tuesday.

The overall trade gap of the world’s biggest economy broadened more than expected to $61.5 billion, up from a revised $58.7 billion in August, said the Commerce Department.

This came as imports picked up 2.7 percent to $322.7 billion, while exports grew 2.2 percent to $261.1 billion.

US trade has been helped by consumer spending as households dipped into pandemic-era savings but higher interest rates, aimed at lowering inflation, have been expected to weaken demand.

As growth slows in the United States’ major trading partners following monetary policy tightening, exports could take a hit as well.

The rise in September imports were boosted by consumer goods such as cell phones and household goods, as well as automotive vehicles and parts.

“While we expect exports and imports to weaken in the months ahead, imports will likely fare worse as consumer spending slows and businesses work down their inventory levels,” said economist Matthew Martin of Oxford Economics.

“Meanwhile, a softening global backdrop and the strength of the US dollar will dampen export growth,” he added.

The increase in the US September trade gap reflected a widening of the goods deficit, and a drop in the services surplus, said the Commerce Department in a statement.

The US goods deficit with China, a point of focus during the trade war between both countries, grew to $24.1 billion in September, data showed.

Trade posed “a small drag on GDP” in the third quarter, noted Rubeela Farooqi of High Frequency Economics.

She added that based on early estimates, she expects “a small contribution from net exports” in the fourth quarter.

AFP
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