US trade deficit narrows in November as imports fall

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. trade deficit unexpectedly narrowed in November as imports declined, government data showed on Tuesday.

The trade deficit contracted 2.0% to $63.2 billion, the Commerce Department’s Census Bureau said. Data for October was revised slightly to show the trade gap widening to $64.5 billion instead of $64.3 billion as previously reported.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the trade deficit rising to $65.0 billion in November.

Trade was neutral to the economy’s 4.9% growth rate in the third quarter. Growth last quarter is seen curbed by a smaller pace of inventory accumulation as businesses anticipate slower demand this year following 525 basis points worth of interest rates hikes from the Federal Reserve since March 2022.

Growth estimates for the fourth quarter are currently as high as a 2.5% annualized pace.

The government is scheduled to publish its snapshot of GDP growth for the October-December quarter later this month.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)