U.S. Trade Deficit Widens to $43 Billion in September


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By Melissa “Missy” Enaje

The U.S. trade deficit widened in September, with exports falling to the lowest level since April, signaling a slowing in global demand for U.S. goods.

The gap between imports and exports grew by a larger-than-expected 7.5 percent to $43 billion from $40 billion in August, according to the U.S. Commerce Department report released Tuesday. Economists had forecast a deficit of $40.3 billion, according to a survey by Bloomberg.

“If these numbers we see today should persist over the next coming months, that will put a lid on the value of the dollar and put a floor under the feet of the other currencies,” said Adolfo Laurenti, chief international economist at Mesirow Financial in Chicago.

The U.S. dollar has strengthened by 8.75 percent this year, making U.S. goods more expensive to overseas buyers. Exports in September fell 1.5 percent to a five-month-low of $195.6 billion. The decrease in exports was widespread, from industrial supplies and materials such as fuels, automotive vehicles, parts and engines, capital goods and consumer goods, according to the Commerce Department report.

Laurenti added that the trade numbers would result in a downward adjustment to third-quarter gross domestic product to 3 percent from the 3.5 percent reported last week.

“The U.S. economy is in mid-cycle, growing moderately, which typically means increasing imports,” Robert A. Dye, Comerica Bank Inc. chief economist said in a research note. Total imports increased by $100 million to $238.6 billion, driven by record-high imports of consumer goods of $47.7 billion, the Commerce Department said.

Goods and Services Billions (Dollars)
Aug. Exports 198.6
Sept.Exports 195.6
Aug. Imports 238.6
Sept. Imports 238.6