Trade gap rises as exports plummet

Department of Commerce report shows imports exceeded exports by $57.2 billion.

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By Lara Moscrip, contributing writer

NEW YORK ( -- The trade deficit rose unexpectedly in October as U.S. exports plummeted, according to a government report released Thursday.

The U.S. Department of Commerce reported that imports exceeded exports by $57.2 billion, up from the $56.6 billion gap in September.

Economists had expected a $53.5 billion gap, according to a consensus estimate compiled by

Strength in exports, which contributed to gross domestic product, has come to an abrupt halt as major trading partners in Europe and Asia feel the effects of a global recession, according to Bob Brusca, economist at Fact and Opinion Economics in New York.

"The economies overseas are getting hit with recession all of a sudden," said Brusca.

"The bad news is that the growth rate in exports is falling very, very quickly," he said.

Exports decreased 2.2% to $151.7 billion in October from $155.1 billion in September, pushing them to the lowest levels since March. There were across-the-board declines in all categories of exported goods.

Imports decreased 1.2% to $208.9 billion in October from $211.6 billion in September, the lowest since February. Petroleum made up a greater proportion of imports from September, comprising nearly 18% of total imports.

There were fewer imports of big-ticket goods such as capital goods and autos, and increases in imports of foods, industrial supplies and a modest rise in consumer goods.

The non-seasonally adjusted trade gap with China increased to $27.9 billion in October.  To top of page

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