This morning’s report on a wider than expected U.S. trade deficit is leading many economists to revise downward their forecasts for fourth quarter U.S. GDP growth. The November deficit totaled $48.7 billion, up from $42.1 billion in October and much higher than the $41.1 billion consensus estimate.
Prior forecasts for fourth-quarter GDP growth ranged from around 1.5% to 2%, but virtually all have been shaved by several tenths following on today’s trade numbers. Analysts at J.P. Morgan have cut their forecast from 1.5% to 0.8% and Morgan Stanley analysts cut their estimate from 1.5% to 0.7%. The new consensus view from a MarketWatch poll calls for growth of 1.2%, down from a previous estimate of 1.3% growth.
The trade report showed that November’s exports were $1.7 billion higher than October’s, which could be a bright spot in the otherwise discouraging numbers. The month-over-month increase in imports was largest in consumer goods, which could also be a sign that consumer confidence is ticking up.