U.S. Trade Deficit Edges Higher on Weak Demand
Data released Thursday morning show the U.S. trade deficit increased slightly in August. In a belated statement — initially due out October 8 but delayed thanks to the partial government shutdown — the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that the trade gap increased from -$38.6 billion in July to -$38.8 billion in August.
Total August exports increased by $0.1 billion to $189.2 billion and total imports were effectively flat at $228 billion, yielding a trade deficit narrower than the $40 billion economists were expecting. However, while the trade gap widened sequentially, it was still low relative to the same period last year. Compared to August 2012, exports are up 3.9 percent and imports are up 0.9 percent; the year-ago trade gap was larger by $5.2 billion.
For the three months ended in August, the U.S. ran an average trade deficit of $37.3 billion, down from an average deficit of $39 billion in the three-month period ended July.
At a glance, the trade data are consistent with what other economic indicators have suggested over the past few months. America’s domestic economy is recovering at a slow but steady clip, generating a reasonable amount of demand for imports, while a slower recovery in Europe has generally dampened exports.