US trade deficit narrows
Washington , November 9, 2012
The US trade deficit narrowed in September as exports increased, suggesting global demand for US goods was holding up despite the debt crisis in Europe.
Other data on Thursday showed a drop in new claims for jobless benefits last week, although a severe storm distorted the data.
The seasonally adjusted monthly trade gap fell to $41.55 billion, the smallest deficit since December 2010, the Commerce Department said.
Analysts were expecting the trade gap would widen to $45.0 billion, and the decline suggested the U.S. economic growth may have been faster in the third quarter than the 2.0 percent annual rate initially reported.
The data is the latest positive sign for the economy, which has appeared to perk up as consumers spend more freely and home construction quickens.
Still, business investment sank in the third quarter, a sign companies lack confidence in the strength of the economic recovery. Also, a package of tax hikes and spending cuts planned for the new year could easily send the economy into recession
In September, US exports rose 3.1 percent, the biggest increase in more than a year.
Exports to the European Union, where a debt crisis has pushed several countries into recession, were flat compared to the prior month, although the figures were not adjusted for seasonal swings.
US imports rose 1.5 percent in September when seasonally adjusted. That also provided a positive sign for the economic outlook, as imports of consumer goods rose by $2.7 billion while imports of petroleum products fell.
The average price for imported oil rose in September to $98.88 per barrel, but the quantity of oil imports dropped. - Reuters