U.S. trade deficit falls in October to lowest since May 2018

06 Décembre, 2019, 07:26 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
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Speaking to reporters on Thursday, President Donald Trump dodged questions on whether a new round of tariffs on about $160 billion in Chinese goods would take effect as scheduled in 10 days' time. "The U.S. economy exports $6.2 billion less today, a decline of 2.9%". The year-to-date US goods deficit with China has narrowed to a seasonally adjusted $294.2 billion from the same 10 months of 2018, the report showed. "We are having very good discussions with China".

Merchandise imports from China declined 4.8% from the prior month to $35.3 billion while exports tumbled 17% to $7.49 billion, the least in nearly a year, Commerce Department data showed Thursday.

Goods exports dropped 0.6 percent in the month, building on September's 1.4 percent fall.

The narrower trade gap will make a positive contribution to fourth-quarter gross domestic product. Services exports rose 0.5 percent in October, while services imports rose 0.2 percent. It was the second straight monthly drop in the trade bill and the percent drop was the biggest since January.

Although tariffs have caused a record trade deficit with China to tumble in 2019, the gap has grown with other countries and left the U.S.in no better position.

The overall USA deficit in goods and services trade narrowed to $47.2 billion in October, less than the median estimate of $48.5 billion median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

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Ironically, the United States has a goods trade surplus with Brazil, which swelled in October to its highest level since March 2014.

Many executives say they are hoping business would pick up if a "phase one" trade deal with Beijing to ease tariffs on Chinese imports is agreed upon in the coming months, along with the approval of the U.S. -Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA.

The dollar was weaker against a basket of currencies, while U.S. Treasury yields rose.

Goods imports dropped as well, falling 2.1 percent, the same magnitude as September. In a third report, the Labor Department said initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 203,000 for the week ended November 30, the lowest level since mid-April.

Trade has been a drag on growth for the past two quarters, according to the Commerce Department's most recent GDP reading. A reversal is likely. Exports of vehicles, civilian aircraft engines and consumer goods all declined in October, although those categories were also hit by the 40-day strike at General Motors Co. and the continued grounding of Boeing Co.'s 737 MAX airliner. But there were increases in oil exports, with the petroleum surplus the highest on record. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the trade gap narrowing to $48.7 billion in October.


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