The U.S. trade deficit fell $6.4 billion to $49.3 billion in November, down sharply from $55.7 billion and easily beating the consensus forecast. It was the first decline in the U.S. trade deficit after 5 straight months of increases.
Forecasts ranged from $-55 billion to $-51.8 billion, with a $-54 billion consensus. The report is a net positive for fourth-quarter (Q4) gross domestic product (GDP).
The U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) said in the joint report the decrease in the goods and services deficit was fueled by a decrease in the goods deficit of $6.7 billion to $71.6 billion and a decrease in the services surplus of $0.3 billion to $22.3 billion.
Exports were $209.9 billion, $1.3 billion less than in October. Imports came in at $259.2 billion, a decline of $7.7 billion from October.
Year-to-date, the goods and services deficit rose $51.9 billion, or 10.4%. Exports rose $157.1 billion or 7.3%, while imports gained $208.9 billion or 7.9% (year-to-date).
The politically-sensitive U.S. trade deficit with China fell $2.8 billion to $35.4 billion in November. Exports fell $0.1 billion to $7.4 billion and imports declined $2.9 billion to $42.8 billion.
The closing of the gap with Beijing comes as the March 2 deadline for trade negotiations approaches. The Trump Administration has made the renegotiation of decades-old trade deals top priority.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC in an interview Wednesday morning that those talks have been “very productive.”
The report showed surpluses (in billions )with South and Central America ($4.8), Hong Kong ($2.6), United Kingdom ($0.9), Singapore ($0.8), and Brazil ($0.7).
Trade deficits were recorded (in billions) with the European Union ($13.8), Mexico ($6.8), Japan ($5.7), Germany ($5.6), Italy ($2.7), South Korea ($1.9), India ($1.7), Taiwan ($1.6), Saudi Arabia ($1.5), France ($1.3), OPEC ($1.2), and Canada ($0.8).
The deficit with Canada decreased $1.3 billion to $0.8 billion. Exports fell $0.4 billion to $24.5 billion, while imports declined $1.7 billion to $25.3 billion.