U.S. trade deficit widens less than expected in October

FILE PHOTO: Shipping containers, including one labelled "China Shipping" and another "Italia," are stacked at the Paul W. Conley Container Terminal in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., May 9, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States’ trade deficit increased less than expected in October, suggesting trade could contribute to economic growth in the fourth quarter.

The Commerce Department said on Friday the trade gap rose 1.7% to $63.1 billion in October. Data for September was revised to show a $62.1 billion deficit instead of $63.9 billion as previously reported. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the trade shortfall increasing to $64.8 billion in October.

Imports increased 2.1% to $245.1 billion. Goods imports gained 2.1% to $207.8 billion. Exports accelerated 2.2% to $182.0 billion. Goods exports jumped 3.0% to $126.3 billion.

Trade was a drag on gross domestic product in the third quarter for the first time since the second quarter of 2019. The economy grew at a historic 33.1% annualized rate in the July-September period. That followed a record 31.4% pace of contraction in the second quarter.

Reporting By Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama