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Trends: U.S. Trade Deficit Fell 7.6% in October


The nation’s trade deficit dropped almost 8 percent in October to a 16-month low, largely because of lower imports from China tied to the ongoing U.S. trade dispute with the Asian giant.

This story by Jeffry Bartash recently appeared in MarketWatch.

The deficit slid to $47.2 billion from a revised $51.1 billion in the prior month, the government said Thursday. If it persists through December, the smaller gap could give a boost to gross domestic product in the fourth quarter.

Imports fell 1.7 percent to $254 billion. 

The U.S. imported fewer drugs, cellphones, electronics, clothing and toys and other goods, much of it from China. Imports of Chinese goods shrank by $1.8 billion to $35.3 billion.

The decline in imports largely reflects a recent up-and-down pattern depending on the timing of new U.S. tariffs on China. Companies rushed to import consumer goods from China in August before scheduled U.S. tariffs went into effect. 

Exports dipped a smaller 0.2 percent to $207.1 billion. Shipments of drugs, airplane engines and autos all decreased. 

For the second month in a row the U.S. posted a record surplus in petroleum, showcasing the country’s reemergence as an energy superpower.

Still, the U.S. trade deficit added up to $520 billion in the first 10 months of this year, compared to $513 billion in the same span in 2018. 

Although tariffs have caused a record trade deficit with China to tumble in 2019, the gap has grown with other countries and left the U.S. in no better position.

The U.S. is on track to record the biggest annual trade deficit in 11 years.

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