The US trade deficit widened in July by less than forecast, reflecting an increase in exports of cars and services. 

The shortfall in goods and services trade grew to $65 billion from a revised $63.7 billion in the prior month, Commerce Department data showed Wednesday. The figures aren’t adjusted for inflation. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a $68 billion deficit.

The value of exports rose 1.6%, while imports increased 1.7%. Exports of industrial supplies and autos increased in the month. The advance in imports reflected a rise in consumer goods — largely cell phones and household goods — as well as capital equipment.

Resilient household demand — illustrated recently by robust retail sales — is encouraging merchants to boost orders with foreign suppliers. Imports may climb further in coming months as retailers prepare for the holiday-shopping season.

Despite the monthly advance, exports are down 3.5% from a year earlier, constrained by tepid overseas demand. The data will help shape estimates for third-quarter gross domestic product. The government’s latest growth estimate showed net exports weighed on second-quarter GDP for the first time since early 2022.

On an inflation-adjusted basis, the merchandise trade deficit widened to $88.4 billion in July.

Digging Deeper

  • Travel exports — or spending by visitors to the US — increased 3.6% to the highest since the end of 2019
  • Travel imports — a measure of Americans traveling abroad — rose to for the first time since February
  • The US merchandise-trade deficit with China widened 5.4% to $24 billion