Largely because of a steep decline in imported oil prices, and the lowest auto and auto parts imports since February 2004, the U.S. trade deficit in September dropped to $56.5 billion, 4.4 percent below the $59.1 billion recorded in August.
The September deficit in goods and services was the lowest monthly figure since October 2007, the Commerce Department reported today.
Imports fell by a record 5.6 percent to $211.9 billion in September, the steepest monthly decline since September 200. Imports from the European Union fell 3.8 percent and imports from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting countries dropped 27.1 percent. The volume of oil imports was the lowest since February 2003. Excluding crude oil, the trade deficit increased to $35.6 billion in September from $33.7 billion in August. The average cost of a barrel of crude oil fell to $107.58 in September, down $12.41 from August.
Imports of autos and auto parts fell by 3.8 percent to $732 million, as shipments from Germany, Japan, South Korea and Mexico all declined. Imports from China, however, hit a record high $33.1 billion in September.
Merchandise exports by the United States fell by 6 percent, the sharpest drop since September 2001, to $155.4 billion, led by a drop of $3.3 billion in exports of commercial aircraft. Exports of capital goods, including civil aircraft, dropped after recording strong results in July and August. The value of U.S. exports to the European Union was at its lowest level since December 2007. However, the U.S. trade surplus in services hit a record $13.1 billion.