Ahead of the Bell: US trade gap

US trade gap likely narrowed in September after big increase in August

Associated Press
US trade deficit narrowed to $40.8 billion in September

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FILE - In this Feb. 23, 2015 file photo, trucks hauling containers leave the Port of Los Angeles. The Commerce Department releases international trade data for September 2015 on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015. (AP Photo/Nick Ut, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Commerce Department reports on the U.S. trade deficit for September at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Wednesday.

DEFICIT SHRINKS: Economists believe that the deficit declined to $42.3 billion, according to a survey by the data firm FactSet.

TRADE PROBLEMS: In August, the deficit jumped sharply to $48.3 billion as exports fell to the lowest level in nearly three years while imports increased.

The overall economy slowed to growth of just 1.5 percent in the July-September quarter but economists are looking for a rebound to growth of around 2.5 percent in the current October-December period. The expectation is that the rebound in growth will come from stronger consumer spending, not from a lower trade deficit.

Many economists believe trade will be a negative on growth over the next year as U.S. exports are held back by a strong dollar and weakness in the global economy. A stronger dollar makes U.S. goods more expensive on overseas markets and boosts imports by making them cheaper in the U.S. market.

The Obama administration is getting ready to unveil the text of a trade agreement it reached last month with Japan and nine other Pacific Rim nations, the next step in the administration's effort to win congressional approval for the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal.

Any approval has been complicated by the announced opposition to the pact by Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination. Her opposition could make it harder for President Barack Obama to round up the Democratic votes he will need in Congress to get the deal done.

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