U.S. Goods Trade Deficit Widens in October, Inventories Fall

WASHINGTON (Reuters) —

The U.S. goods trade deficit increased sharply in October and inventories declined broadly, which could temper expectations of strong economic growth in the fourth quarter.

The Commerce Department said on Tuesday that the goods trade gap jumped 6.5 percent to $68.3 billion last month amid an increase in imports of industrial supplies, consumer and other goods.

Exports fell 1.0 percent, weighed down by decreasing shipments of food, motor vehicles, capital and consumer goods. The government will publish its comprehensive trade report, which includes services, next week.

The Commerce Department also reported that wholesale inventories fell 0.4 percent in October after edging up 0.1 percent in September. Retail inventories slipped 0.1 percent after declining 0.9 percent in September.

Retail inventories, excluding motor vehicles and parts, the component that goes into the calculation of gross domestic product increased 0.4 percent last month after dipping 0.1 percent in September.

The trade and inventory data could prompt economists to lower fourth-quarter GDP estimates, which range as low as a 2.5 percent annualized rate to as high as a 3.4 percent pace.

Trade added four-tenths of a percentage point to the economy’s 3.0 percent annualized growth rate in the third quarter. Inventory investment contributed a 0.73 percentage point to output in the July-September quarter.

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