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The U.S. automotive segment showed a decrease in exports in September. Part exports far outpace larger items such as passenger cars and trucks.

Trade deficit narrows in September

by Rachel Tan
Nov 08, 2012

The U.S. trade deficit narrowed in September as exports of industrial supplies, foods and consumer goods increased after a two-month decline, the government reported Thursday.

Exports totaled $187 billion and imports $228.5 billion, resulting in a goods and services deficit of $41.5 billion. This was down from a $43.8 billion deficit in August and beat analysts’ expectations of a widening deficit of $45.4 billion.

“The pace of [export] growth should pick up with an improvement in global demand," Jeremy Lawson, senior economist at BNP Paribas in New York, told Reuters.

The September trade deficit was the lowest since 2010, a positive sign of economic recovery, economists said. It was coupled with a fall in new jobless claims last week.

The goods deficit decreased to $1.4 billion to $57.5 billion while the surplus in services increased $800 million to $15.9 billion.

Exports were led by $3.4 billion increase in industrial supplies and materials. Foods, feeds, and beverages rose by the second largest amount and were followed by consumer goods. Capital goods, which include aircraft, engines and telecommunications equipment, were a close fourth.

Among industrial supplies, petroleum products led exports with a 37 percent increase since August. In the food segment, soybeans exports jumped 32 percent in September.

The automotive sector didn’t fare as well. Exports of vehicles, parts and engines declined by $300 million. Largest drops in exports were recorded in Europe and Asia, specifically in Belgium, China, France and Singapore.

The U.S. imported $2.7 billion more in consumer goods and $1.2 billion more in industrial supplies and materials. Imports of capital goods as well as foods and beverages also increased. But imports of automotive vehicles and parts fell with the largest decline coming from Japan.

In the year ago period, imports increased as Americans bought $2.5 billion more in capital goods and $2.1 billion more in vehicles and parts. Consumer goods imports increased by $2 billion while imports of services declined by $600 million.

Exports of U.S. services increased by $300 million, led by the travel industry.

The trade balance for October will be released Dec. 11.