U.S. Trade Deficit Widens More Than Expected Amid Jump In Imports

Reflecting a jump in the value of imports, the Commerce Department released a report on Thursday showing the U.S. trade deficit widened by more than expected in the month of November.

The Commerce Department said the trade deficit widened to $68.1 billion in November from $63.1 billion in October. Economists had expected the deficit to widen to $65.2 billion.

The trade deficit in November was the largest since the deficit reached a record $68.3 billion in August of 2006.

The wider than expected trade deficit came as the value of imports spiked by 2.9 percent to $252.3 billion, outpacing a 1.2 percent jump in the value of exports to $184.2 billion.

“The widening of the trade deficit in November came as import growth continued to outpace export growth and means net trade will be a significant drag on fourth quarter GDP growth,” said Michael Pearce, Senior U.S. Economist at Capital Economics.

He added, “Those additional imports are helping to rebuild inventories, however, which will provide an offsetting positive boost, meaning we still estimate that GDP growth last quarter was close to 3% annualized.”

The sharp increase in the value of imports was partly due to a spike in imports of consumer goods, particularly cell phones and other household goods.

Imports of industrial supplies and materials and capital goods also saw notable growth, while imports of passenger cars slumped.

Meanwhile, the report showed a sizable increase in exports of services as well as upticks in exports of natural gas and foods, feeds and beverages.

The Commerce Department said the goods deficit widened to $86.4 billion in November from $81.4 billion in October, while the services surplus was nearly unchanged at $18.2 billion.

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