The nation's trade gap widened a bit in August, according to data from the Commerce Department, which had been delayed by the recent government shutdown. In all, the deficit increased just nominally from $38.6 billion in July to $38.8 billion in August.
In August, the latest month for which such internationally configured statistics are available, imports were essentially unchanged at $228.0 billion. In this category, an increase in imports of services, mainly in travel, was offset by a decrease in goods, mostly consumer offerings.
On the other hand, exports fell to $189.2 billion in August from $189.3 billion in July. The slight easing in this area reflected a decrease in exports of industrial supplies and materials.
In all, the latest report was a bit better than expected, as the gap had been expected to increase to $39.5 billion for August. The more or less stable deficit for that month suggests that the third-quarter rate of gross domestic product change, which is set for release later this month, assuming that the government holds to its schedule, should not be affected to any degree by the latest trade data. Of note, GDP is comprised of domestic activity plus exports minus imports.
Originally, the trade balance figures had been scheduled for issuance on October 8th, making for more than a two-week delay. The September report is due out on November 5th.
At the time of this article's writing, the author did not have positions in any of the companies mentioned.