US Trade Deficit Widens to Largest Since April on Higher Imports

US Trade Deficit Widens to Largest Since April on Higher Imports

The US trade deficit widened in January by more than forecast, driven by a pickup in the value of imports while exports were little changed.

The shortfall in goods and services trade expanded 5.1% from the prior month to $67.4 billion, the widest since April, Commerce Department data showed Thursday. The gap exceeded all estimates in a Bloomberg survey of economists. Last year, the deficit narrowed by the most since 2009.

The value of imports rose 1.1% to the highest level in a year, led by capital goods and motor vehicles. Exports edged up 0.1%. The figures aren’t adjusted for inflation.

US Trade Deficit Widens in January With Higher Imports

The outlook for trade is marked by various cross currents. The progress companies made last year getting inventories more in line with sales could lead to a pickup in demand for imports. At the same time, sluggish overseas economies risk restraining US sales to overseas customers even the dollar retreats from last year’s high.

On an inflation-adjusted basis, the merchandise trade deficit increased to a three-month high of $86 billion in January. Prior to the current report, the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s GDPNow forecast showed trade having little impact on first-quarter growth.

Digging Deeper

  • Travel exports — or spending by visitors to the US — edged up slightly to the highest since December 2019
  • Travel imports — a measure of Americans traveling abroad — climbed to a fresh record
  • The US merchandise-trade deficit with China widened slightly. The value of goods imported from China rose to a three-month high
  • The goods shortfall with Mexico shrank to the lowest level in three months


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