U.S. Trade Deficit Widens on Petroleum Imports

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/s4intly/

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/s4intly/

The U.S. trade deficit increased by 8 percent in September, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The BEA reported on Thursday that the U.S. exported $188.9 billion worth of goods and services in the month and imported $230.7 billion worth, yielding a deficit of $41.8 billion. Exports fell $0.4 billion on the month, while imports increased by $2.7 billion.

The goods deficit increased $3 billion in August to $61.3 billion. Exports of goods increased $0.2 billion to $132.1 billion, while imports increased $2.8 billion to $193.4 billion. This reflects decreased exports of industrial supplies and materials and increased exports of foods, feeds, and beverages. Meanwhile, imports for industrial supplies as well as automotive vehicles and parts increased.

The services surplus decreased by $0.1 billion. Services exports decreased $0.2 billion to $56.8 billion, while imports decreased $0.1 billion to $37.3 billion. This is due to a decrease in travel activity both at home and abroad.

The three-month moving average for the goods and services trade balance was -$39.7 billion, reflecting average exports of $189.7 billion and average imports of $227 billion. This is up from an average deficit of $37.3 billion in the three-month period ended August.

The U.S. has run a net trade deficit fairly consistently for decades, which indicates a net outflow of dollars to the rest of the world. This prospect has concerned some economists and policymakers, as large-scale selling of the U.S. dollar could trigger currency devaluation, which could in turn increase the deficit by making it more costly to purchase imports.

Trade surpluses decreased with Hong Kong (from $3.7 billion to $3.2 billion) and Brazil (from $1.7 billion to $1 billion). Deficits increased with China (from $29.9 billion to $30.5 billion) and Germany ($5.4 billion to $6.1 billion), and deficits shrank with the European Union at large ($9.8 billion to $8 billion) and Japan ($6.4 billion to $5.5 billion).

On Thursday, the White House reported that for the first time in nearly two decades, the U.S. was producing more oil than it was importing while using less oil overall. Though this is true, U.S. oil imports are still significant. The petroleum deficit increased from $18.6 billion to $19.8 billion and accounted for nearly half of the total deficit.

President Barack Obama recently nominated Stefan Stelig, a Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) executive, to oversee international trade in the Commerce Department.

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