The US trade deficit widened 15 percent to a record 34.2 billion dollars in September from 29.8 billion dollars in August as consumers and businesses went on an overseas buying spree and as the price of imported oil soared, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday.
The September goods and services shortfall eclipsed expectations on Wall Street, where analysts had foreseen a deficit of 30.5 billion dollars.
For the first nine months of the year, the trade gap came to 270.16 billion dollars, a 43.2 percent jump over the 188.7 billion recorded in the same period of 1999.
While imports rose 3.1 percent to a monthly record of 126.62 billion dollars, exports declined 0.7 percent from August to 92.36 billion, the Commerce Department said.
The import surge was led by purchases of industrial supplies, capital goods, and consumer goods. Imports of industrial supplies rose 5.6 percent to 26.5 billion dollars while capital goods imports were up 2.7 percent to 31.61 billion dollars.
Foreign purchases of consumer goods, notably pharmaceuticals, apparel and household products, jumped two percent to a record 23.76 billion dollars.
Imports of autos and auto parts rose a slight 0.1 percent to 16.94 billion dollars.
The fall in exports was led by autos and auto parts, capital goods, foods, feeds, and beverages, the government said.
Capital goods exports declined 0.9 percent to 31.53 billion dollars in September, reflecting lower sales of drilling and oilfield equipment, computer accessories and telecommunications equipment.
But civilian aircraft exports rose 1.4 percent to 2.04 billion dollars.
The goods-only trade deficit widened 9.7 percent to 39.04 billion dollars in September from the previous month.
In the services-only category, the US surplus shrank 13.6 percent to 5.95 billion dollars from August.
The September petroleum deficit widened 3.7 percent to 9.61 billion dollars. The price of imported crude oil rose to 28.98 dollars a barrel in September from 26.59 dollars in August. The September level represented the highest price for imported oil since November 1990, when the price came to 29.51 dollars a barrel.
The cost of crude petroleum imports fell 4.4 percent to 7.88 billion dollars. The volume of oil imports declined to an average 9.1 million barrels per day in September from 10 million in August.
The United States imported 271.8 million barrels of oil in September.
Excluding petroleum, the trade deficit widened 11.8 percent to 29.44 billion dollars in September.
The shortfall with Japan narrowed in September to 6.09 billion dollars from 6.76 billion in August and 6.62 billion in September 1999.
With China, the deficit widened to a record 8.72 billion dollars in September from 8.6 billion in August and 6.87 billion in the same month last year.
The US trade deficit with the newly industrialized economies -- Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan -- grew to 2.84 billion dollars in September from 2.68 billion in August and 2.16 billion in September 1999.
The deficit with the 11-nation euro area narrowed to 3.7 billion dollars from 4.11 billion in August. The shortfall in September last year was 2.72 billion dollars -- WASHINGTON (AFP)
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