US current account deficit narrows in third quarter on petroleum exports

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. current account deficit was the smallest in more than two years in the third quarter amid rising petroleum exports, government data showed on Wednesday.

The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis said that the current account deficit, which measures the flow of goods, services and investments into and out of the country, contracted $16.5 billion, or 7.6%, to $200.3 billion last quarter. That was the smallest since the second quarter of 2021.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the current account deficit at $196.0 billion.

The current account gap represented 2.9% of gross domestic product, the smallest share since the first quarter of 2021, and down from 3.2% in the second quarter. The deficit peaked at 6.3% of GDP in the fourth quarter of 2005.

The United States is now a net exporter of crude oil and fuel. Though the deficit remains large, it has no impact on the dollar given its status as the reserve currency.

Exports of goods increased $19.1 billion to $516.4 billion, driven by petroleum and related products. Exports of services rose $2.7 billion to $252.2 billion as an increase in personal travel partially offset a decline in technical, trade-related, and other business services.

Imports of goods increased $4.6 billion to $777.4 billion, boosted by passenger cars, other parts and accessories. That partly offset a drop in imports of non-monetary gold. Imports of services fell $1.9 billion to $176.0 billion, reflecting a decline in sea freight transport.

Primary income receipts increased $11.8 billion to $362.1 billion, while payments of primary income rose $14.0 billion to $332.1 billion.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani, Editing by Nick Zieminski)