U.S. Trade Deficit Rose in October to Highest Point Since January

The Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Census Bureau said that the U.S. trade deficit rose from $44.89 billion in September to $48.73 billion in October, its highest level since January. In the latest figures, the increase in the trade deficit stemmed mostly from a jump in goods imports (up from $195.88 billion to $199.40 billion), with goods exports (down from $130.64 billion to $130.32 billion) off slightly. On the positive side, goods exports remain not far from September’s figure, which was its best reading since December 2014. Beyond goods, service-sector exports (up from $65.29 billion to $65.59 billion) and imports (up from $44.93 billion to $45.24 billion) each rose to new all-time highs.

The underlying goods exports data were mixed but mostly lower. There were increased exports for industrial supplies and materials (up $2.60 billion), but that was offset by reductions in other categories. This included declining exports for foods, feeds and beverages (down $1.33 billion), non-automotive capital goods (down $1.24 billion), automotive vehicles and parts (down $276 million) and consumer goods (down $206 million). The foods, feeds and beverages and capital goods figures reflected volatility in soybeans and civilian aircraft orders from month-to-month. In contrast, the goods imports data were mostly higher, led by sharp increases for industrial supplies and materials (up $1.76 billion) and consumer goods (up $799 million). Foods, feeds and beverages imports inched higher (up $6 million), but that was enough to reach a new all-time high at $11.78 billion.

For manufacturers, exports have trended in the right direction through the first 10 months of 2017 – a welcome development after weaker data in each of the past two years. Using non-seasonally adjusted data, U.S.-manufactured goods exports totaled $906.96 billion year-to-date in October, up 3.79 percent from $873.81 billion one year ago.

This reflects better year-to-date figures to the top six markets for U.S.-manufactured goods: Canada (up from $224.03 billion to $234.09 billion), Mexico (up from $191.14 billion to $201.60 billion), China (up from $91.85 billion to $103.98 billion), Japan (up from $52.15 billion to $55.49 billion), the United Kingdom (up from $46.68 billion to $46.71 billion) and Germany (up from $41.12 billion to $44.13 billion).

Chad Moutray

Chad Moutray

Chad Moutray is chief economist for the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the Director of the Center for Manufacturing Research for The Manufacturing Institute, where he serves as the NAM’s economic forecaster and spokesperson on economic issues. He frequently comments on current economic conditions for manufacturers through professional presentations and media interviews. He has appeared on Bloomberg, CNBC, C-SPAN, Fox Business and Fox News, among other news outlets.
Chad Moutray

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