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US steel trade deficit increases in Sept.

Keywords: Tags  U.S. trade balance, iron and steel, copper, metal scrap, Michael Montgomery, IHS Global Insight, Corinna Petry

CHICAGO — The U.S. iron and steel mill products trade deficit increased in September from the previous month, according to an analysis of the latest U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis data.

Iron and steel exports increased 0.9 percent to $932 million while imports grew 2.8 percent to nearly $1.59 billion, resulting in a 5.7-percent increase in the trade deficit to $654 million from $619 million, although the year-to-date trade deficit of $4.96 billion was down 23.3 percent from $6.47 billion in the first nine months of last year.

The copper trade surplus totaled $438 million in September, up 34.4 percent from $326 million the previous month as exports rose 11.2 percent to $815 million and imports fell 7.4 percent to $377 million. The copper trade surplus for the first nine months of the year plunged 51.3 percent to $1.27 billion from $2.61 billion a year earlier.

Exports of metalliferous ores and metal scrap increased 1.1 percent to $2.33 billion in September while imports rose 13.9 percent to $739 million, resulting in a 3.9-percent decrease in the trade surplus to $1.59 billion from $1.66 billion in August, and the year-to-date surplus fell 7.4 percent to $13.35 billion from $14.42 billion.

The United States recorded a goods and services deficit of $41.8 billion in September, up 8 percent from $38.7 million in August. The trade deficit with China increased 2 percent to $30.5 billion, accounting for 73 percent of the September total. The United States also tallied higher trade deficits with Mexico (up 33.3 percent) and Canada (up 8.2 percent) in the same comparison.

"While the trade shortfall looks bad on the surface, beneath the floorboards it matters little to the U.S. economy. Many trade categories are very volatile (and) beneath this volatility is a foreign trade sector beset by mediocrity on both sides of the ledger," said Michael Montgomery, U.S. economist at Lexington, Mass.-based IHS Global Insight Inc. "Exports are flat because most of the rest of the world is barely growing. Imports are flat because both domestic consumption and investment are in low gear."

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