You are here
US trade gap hit $48.7b in November
WASHINGTON—The US trade deficit expanded in November to its widest point in seven months, driven by a surge in imports that outpaced only modest growth in exports. The Commerce Department said the trade gap widened 15.8 per cent to $48.7 billion in November from October. Imports grew 3.8 per cent to $231.3 billion, led by gains in shipments of cell phones, including Apple’s new iPhone.
Exports increased only one per cent to $182.6 billion. And exports to Europe fell 1.3 per cent, further evidence of the prolonged debt crisis that has gripped the region. A wider trade deficit acts as a drag on US growth. It typically means the US is earning less on overseas sales while spending more on foreign products.
Faster growth in exports helped the US economy grow from July through September at an annual rate of 3.1 per cent. Most economists say growth has slowed in the October-December quarter to an annual rate of less than two per cent, in part because of weaker exports.
Paul Ashworth, chief US economist at Capital Economics, predicts trade trimmed growth by about 0.5 percentage point in the final three months of the year. He expects fourth-quarter growth to be no more than a rate of 1.5 per cent. Through the first 11 months of 2012, the trade deficit is running at an annual rate of $546.6 billion. That’s roughly 2.4 per cent lower than the 2011 deficit.
Imports of consumer goods grew to $45.3 billion in November, a monthly record. Much of the growth was from cell phones and other household electronics products. Oil imports dropped 2.5 per cent, reflecting a fall in prices and lower volume. Imports of foreign-made autos and auto parts rose a sizable $1.5 billion to $25.6 billion November, likely reflecting catch-up shipments following port disruptions in October caused by Superstorm Sandy.
The US trade deficit with China, the largest with any country, totaled $29 billion in November. That’s down slightly from the monthly record of $29.5 billion in October. But the trade gap with China is still on track to set a new annual record in 2012.
Trade was a modest positive for overall economic growth in 2012 and many economists believe that trend will continue in 2013. However, that forecast is based on a view that the European debt crisis stabilises and growth in Asia begins to rebound.
In its latest outlook, a forecasting panel for the National Association for Business Economics predicted that the US trade deficit for 2013 will total $533 billion, a slight improvement from the $540 billion deficit they expect when the trade numbers are totaled up for all of 2012.
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.