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U.S. goods trade deficit widens sharply in October

FILE PHOTO: The port of Long Beach is shown in Long Beach, California

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. trade deficit in goods widened sharply in October as exports declined amid slowing global demand and a strong dollar.

The goods trade deficit surged 7.7% to $99.0 billion last month, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday. Exports of goods dropped 2.6% to $173.7 billion.

There were decreases in exports of industrial materials and supplies, which include crude oil. Exports of consumer goods tumbled, but shipments of food and motor vehicles and parts increased. The Federal Reserve's aggressive interest rate hikes to quell inflation have boosted the dollar, making U.S-made. goods expensive on the international market.

Goods imports rose 0.9% to $272.7 billion. A smaller trade deficit was one of the main drivers of economic growth in the third quarter. October's sharp widening in the deficit suggested trade could be a drag on GDP this quarter.

The Commerce Department also reported that wholesale inventories increased 0.8% in October after rising 0.6% in September. Retail inventories fell 0.2% after dipping 0.1% in September. Motor vehicle stocks increased 0.4%.

Excluding motor vehicles, retail inventories slipped 0.4% after dropping 0.9% in September. This component goes into the calculation of GDP. Inventories subtracted from GDP growth in the third quarter.

(Reporting By Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Nick Zieminski)