U.S. trade deficit in goods widens 1.3%, modest drag for GDP growth in third quarter


The numbers:  The U.S. trade deficit in goods widened 1.3% to $85.8 billion in September, according to the Commerce Department’s advanced estimate released Thursday.

Economists polled by Econoday were looking for the deficit to rise to $85.4 billion deficit.

An advanced estimate of wholesale inventories, meanwhile, showed no change in September. Retail inventories climbed 0.9% in the month, according to an early estimate.

Key details:  The widening of the deficit in September meant that the trade sector was neutral for U.S. GDP in the third quarter.

See: GDP jumps 4.9% as the U.S. economy speeds up

In September, imports rose 2.4% to $259.8 billion. Exports rose 2.9% to $174.0 billion.

Big picture: The deficit has been trending lower after hitting $125.3 billion in March 2022. The outlook for global trade is weakening and the trend is expected to continue into 2024.

The IMF said in its latest report on the health of the global economy that global growth “is limping along, not sprinting.” World trade growth is expected to decline to 0.9% this year from 5.1% in 2022.

What are they saying: “When accounting for price changes net trade is estimated to have been a slight 0.1 percentage point drag on Q3 GDP growth,” said Matthew Martin, U.S. economist at Oxford Economics.

Market reaction: Stocks

open mixed on Thursday while the 10-year Treasury yield
fell to 4.92%.

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