Shipping containers are seen at the Port of Baltimore in Baltimore on November 10. The Commerce Department said the U.S. trade deficit dropped to a six-month low in October after reaching a record in September. Photo Leigh Vogel/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 7 (UPI) -- After reaching a record-high trade deficit in September, the difference closed to $67.1 billion, its lowest point in six months, according to new data from the Commerce Department Thursday.
October's figure was 17.6% lower than the $81.4 billion in September, which was an all-time high. Experts believe the change could be proof that the worldwide supply chain, which has been in chaos since the coronavirus pandemic, may be slowly returning to normal.
A jump in oil exports helped close the U.S. trade deficit as Gulf Coast refineries return to full operation after summer storms. The computer chip shortage that had hobbled the new auto production industry for more than a year appeared to be improving with an increase in auto imports and exports.
"Retail inventories for October, adjusted for seasonal variations and trading-day difference but not for price changes, were estimated at an end-of-month level of $603.6 billion, up 0.1% from September 2021, and were down 0.7% from October 2020," the Commerce Department said.
"August 2021 to September 2021 percentage change was unrevised from the preliminary estimate of down 0.2%."
Andrew Hunter, a senior economist at Capital Economics, told CNBC improving trade could add around 1% to U.S. economic growth in the current October-December quarter. Hunter said the gross domestic product could expand at an annual rate of 6.5% this quarter, after just growing 2.1% in the third quarter.