US trade deficit widens in August as exports slow

A trader works on the trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange September 4, 2019. — Reuters pic
A trader works on the trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange September 4, 2019. — Reuters pic

WASHINGTON, Oct 4 — The yawning US trade deficit rose by nearly US$1 billion (RM4.2 billion) in August as weakening foreign demand and the churning trade conflict ate into US exports, the government reported today.

Meanwhile, the strong fueled American imports of consumer items like mobile telephones as well as semiconductors and industrial equipment, according to the Commerce Department data.

As a result, the US trade balance crept 1.6 percent higher to US$54.9 billion for the month, surpassing economists’ expectations.

Imports increased 0.5 per cent, while exports rose 0.2 per cent, rising more slowly than in July.

The deficit is up more than seven per cent in the first eight months of the year over the same period of 2018.

The unexpected increase in August could weigh on GDP calculations for the third quarter while a slowdown is expected to weaken US exports toward the end of the year.

Boeing’s travails continued to weigh on exports, as civilian aircraft sales fell US$1.3 billion.

Demand for services, an area in which the United States typically enjoys a broad surplus, has waned since the summer while services imports are now at their highest on record.

Industrial surveys released this week suggest a steep drop in demand for US exports is likely later in the year, and the punishing duty rates President Donald Trump announced in August should further weigh on trade.

The August figures also showed a deepening decline in goods exchanged with , Mexico and the European Union.

But the general trend this year of imports from Mexico rising while imports steadily recede, continued uninterrupted.

So far in 2019, the US goods deficit with Mexico has surged 30.6 per cent but with China it has declined 11.7 per cent with China. — AFP

Source: The Malay Mail Online

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