US trade gap narrows sharply in October

City A.M. Reporter
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US trade deficit narrowed in October to its lowest in 10 months, but imports from China hit a record high, a new government report has shown.

The trade gap totaled $43.5bn, in line with a consensus estimate from analysts before the report. However, the Commerce Department revised its estimate of the September trade deficit to $44.2bn from $43.1bn.

As a result, the October trade gap narrowed 1.6 per cent from September, instead of widening, as most analysts expected.

Both imports and exports declined in October, in a possible sign of weakening demand in the US and abroad.

Imports fell one per cent to $222.6bn, led by a $3.6bn drop in industrial supplies and materials. The average price for imported oil fell for a fifth consecutive month to $98.84 per barrel, from its May peak of $108.70.

Despite the overall import decline, imports of capital goods and food, feeds and beverages increased to records in October.

Imports from China rose to a record $37.8bn and imports from Japan increased to $12.3bn, the highest since April 2008.

US exports fell 0.8 per cent to $179.2bn, led by a $1.3bn drop in industrial supplies and materials. The biggest monthly decline in that category was for non-monetary gold, which tumbled 25 per cent to $3.5bn.

However, for the first 10 months of 2011, non-monetary gold exports totaled $27.8bn, compared to $14.8bn in the same period last year.