WASHINGTON – The trade deficit in the U.S. widened more than forecast in September to a four-month high, reflecting a pickup in imports of consumer goods and capital equipment. Exports declined for a third month.
The gap in goods and services trade increased 8 percent to $41.8 billion from a revised $38.7 billion in August, the Commerce Department reported today in Washington. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of 72 economists called for a $39 billion deficit.
The U.S. imported more mobile phones and automobiles from overseas producers reached a record, indicating American companies were confident domestic demand would be sustained. Limited progress in foreign markets has held back demand for U.S.-made goods, indicating it will take time for the economy to get a bigger boost from trade.
“Over the next year, faster global growth and the potential for increased U.S. exports in energy products” will help narrow the deficit, Tim Quinlan, an economist at Wells Fargo Securities LLC in Charlotte, N.C., said before the report. “I’d expect over the next three or four quarters or so the trade deficit to get smaller.”
Estimates in the Bloomberg survey ranged from deficits of $37 billion to $41.6 billion after a previously reported $38.8 billion shortfall in August. The report, initially scheduled for Nov. 5, was delayed by a 16-day partial shutdown of the federal government.
Jobless claims in the week ended Nov. 9 declined 2,000 to 339,000 from a revised 341,000 the week before that was higher than initially reported, the Labor Department said today in Washington. The median forecast of 51 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a drop to 330,000. Applications for five states were estimated because of the Veterans Day holiday- shortened week, the Labor Department said.