Drop in oil imports by US drives trade deficit back to 2009 level

THE US trade deficit fell to a four year low during November, as higher shale gas production helped to hold down the country’s demand for imported energy.

With a negative balance of $34.25bn (£20.88bn), the gap between imports and exports is smaller than at any time since October 2009. Exports hit $194.9bn in December, the highest on record, as the American economy returns to a healthier state.

Imports of crude oil dropped to 7,091 barrels per day during November, down from 8,099 the year before, reflecting the growing energy independence of the US.

“The 12-month average dropped to a 17-year low of 7.7m barrels, which is one million barrels lower than the average monthly quantity of oil imported in the 12 months before that. Over the same period, domestic oil production has increased to a 12-month average of 7.3m barrels,” said Paul Ashworth of Capital Economics. He added the strong numbers also suggest that US GDP grew by around three per cent annualised in the last quarter.