Trade Deficit in Goods Contracts in September, With Rising Exports and Lower Imports

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In the United States we have seen nothing but net trade deficits for many years. This is the case in goods due to how much we import. Now we have a report from the Census Bureau showing the advance report for international trade, wholesale inventories and retail inventories advance statistics for September 2016.

The goods deficit was down 5.6% to $56.1 billion in September. Bloomberg was calling for a $60.5 billion deficit, and its Econoday range was −$64.8 billion to −$58.0 billion. The report for August was also revised to −$59.1 billion from −$58.4 billion.

In short, the deficit was narrower than expected and narrower than the prior month, despite a higher revision.

What matters here is that this is just a partial report on the total trade deficit. This measures the goods imported and exported in and out of the United States and its territories.

Exports of goods for September were $125.6 billion, a gain of $1.1 billion over August’s exports. Imports of goods for September were $181.7 billion, a drop of $2.0 billion from August’s imports. Even with a strong dollar, this means that imports were down and exports were up.

This may also set up for a slight positive to this Friday’s first look at third-quarter gross domestic product (GDP). Imports subtract from GDP and exports add to it.

Wholesale inventories for September were estimated at an end-of-month level of $590.7 billion, up 0.2% from August 2016, on a seasonally adjusted basis. They were listed as being virtually unchanged from September 2015.

Retail inventories for September were estimated at $607.6 billion, up 0.3% from August 2016, on a seasonally adjusted basis. This was actually shown to be up 4.0% from September 2015.

Exports of capital goods were up almost 4%, and exports of consumer goods were up 4.4%. Exports of industrial supplies rose by over 2%.