Trade deficit for August widens as exports fall

WASHINGTON, Thu Oct 11, 2012 – The U.S. trade deficit widened in August, in line with analyst expectations, as U.S. goods exports fell for the fifth consecutive month, a government report showed on Thursday.

The monthly trade gap increased to $44.2 billion, from an upwardly revised estimate of $42.5 billion in July, the Commerce Department said. Analysts were expecting an August trade gap of about $44.0 billion.

Overall U.S. exports dropped 1.0 percent as troubles in Europe continue to weigh on global growth, while imports fell 0.1 percent in a sign of faltering U.S. demand for consumer products, autos and capital goods.

Exports of oil, chemicals and other industrial supplies fell to the lowest level since February 2011, helping pull down the entire goods category, despite an increase in capital goods exports to the second-highest level on record.

Services exports defied the overall trend and rose to a record $52.8 billion, due mostly to increases in professional and business services and transportation.

Services imports also set a record, reflecting licensing fees to broadcast the Summer Olympic games in Britain.

December trade gap widens slightly more than expected

WASHINGTON –The trade deficit widened slightly more than expected in December, and the bilateral trade deficit with China last year soared to a record high $295.5 billion.

The monthly trade gap swelled to $48.8 billion as goods imports climbed to the highest level since July 2008, just before the financial crisis caused world trade to plunge, a report from the Commerce Department showed on Friday.

Analysts surveyed before the report had expected the December trade deficit at $48.0 billion, up from a revised estimate of $47.1 billion in November.

U.S. exports grew slightly in December, with records set for petroleum, services and advance technology goods.

For the year, the U.S. trade gap rose 11.6 percent to $558.0 billion, the highest since 2008.

Exports last year rose 14.5 percent to a record $2.1 trillion, keeping the United States on pace to meet President Barack Obama’s goal of doubling exports in five years.

Imports grew 13.8 percent to a record $2.7 trillion, with records set in several categories.

Auto imports rose to the highest since 2007 and petroleum the highest since 2008. The average price for imported oil in 2011 was a record high $99.78 per barrel

The record trade deficit last year with China is certain to reinforce concerns in Congress about Beijing’s currency and trade practice ahead of a meeting next week between Obama and the Asian giant’s expected next leader, Vice President Xi Jinping.