India reports record merchandise trade deficit for October

By Shivangi Acharya

NEW DELHI (Reuters) -India’s merchandise trade deficit in October widened to a record level, partly due to a sharp rise in gold imports during the festival season, trade ministry officials said on Wednesday.

The trade deficit widened to $31.46 billion last month, much higher than economists’ expectation of $20.50 billion, according to a Reuters poll.

Merchandise exports stood at $33.57 billion, while imports shot up to $65.03 billion, compared with exports of $31.60 billion and imports of $57.91 billion in October last year, government data showed.

In the previous month, merchandise exports were $34.47 billion, while imports stood at $53.84 billion.

Gold imports leapt in October 95% year-on-year, Satya Srinivas, a commerce ministry official said. In October, gold imports totalled $7.23 billion, according to Reuters calculation.

Merchandise exports for the period April-October totalled $244.89 billion, while imports for the same period reached $391.96 billion, the data showed.

India’s months-long festival demand peaks during Diwali, the festival of lights, which was celebrated over the weekend.

Services exports in October were $28.70 billion, while imports were $14.32 billion. In September, services exports were$29.37 billion and imports were $14.91 billion.

(Reporting by Shivangi Acharya Editing by Christina Fincher and Mark Potter)