The U.S. trade deficit increased less than expected in July as both exports and imports fell, suggesting that trade could contribute to economic growth in the third quarter.
The Commerce Department said on Wednesday the trade gap rose 0.3 percent to $43.7 billion. June’s trade deficit was revised down slightly to $43.5 billion from the previously reported $43.6 billion.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the trade shortfall widening to $44.6 billion in July. When adjusted for inflation, the trade deficit increased to $61.6 billion from $60.8 billion in June. The so-called real goods deficit in July was below the second-quarter average of $62.4 billion.
While that suggests trade could add to gross product in the third quarter, economists at Wrightson ICAP cautioned that Hurricane Harvey could significantly impact commodity prices and trade volumes, and push up the trade deficit in September.
The politically sensitive U.S.-China trade deficit increased to