US Trade Deficit Reached Nine-Month High in October

This Oct. 24, 2016, photo, shows a line of cranes at the Port of Baltimore in Baltimore. On Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, the Commerce Department reports on the U.S. trade gap for October. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

(CN) – The U.S. trade deficit widened in October to a nine-month high on record imports feeding a steady domestic demand for goods, Commerce Department said Tuesday.

The department said Tuesday that the trade gap rose 8.6 percent in October from $44.9 billion in September. Imports hit a record $244.6 billion in October, and exports were unchanged at $195.9 billion.

A trade deficit means that the United States is buying more goods and services from other countries than it is selling them. A rising trade gap reduces U.S. economic growth.

President Donald Trump views America’s massive trade deficits as a sign of economic weakness, and has blamed them on bad deals struck with China and other trading partners.

Consumer goods imports increased almost $800 million, including a $303 million gain in cell phones and other household goods, as well as more inbound shipments of furniture, appliances, toys and clothing.

So far this year, the United States is running a trade deficit of $462.9 billion, up 11.9 percent from January through October 2016. U.S. exports are up 5.3 percent this year; a weaker dollar has made U.S. goods less expensive overseas. Imports are up 6.5 percent the first 10 months of 2017.

Tuesday’s report also showed record imports from China led to a wider trade gap. Shipments from Mexico were also the highest ever, causing the U.S. gap with that country to expand in October.

In October, the United States ran a surplus of $20.3 billion with the rest of the world in services such as banking and tourism. But that was overwhelmed by a $69.1 billion deficit in the trade of goods.

Crude oil imports were up $1.5 billion in October. Imports of drilling and oilfield equipment climbed by $304 million.

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