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).