The U.S. trade deficit climbed nearly 6 percent to $67.1 billion in August.

The Port of Oakland in California in September. The U.S. trade deficit in goods and services continued to climb in August, growing 5.9 percent from the previous month to $67.1 billion.
Credit...Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
WASHINGTON — The U.S. trade deficit in goods and services continued to climb in August, growing 5.9 percent from the previous month to $67.1 billion, the highest monthly level since 2006, as American imports outpaced exports.
The United States exported $171.9 billion of goods and services in August, compared with imports of $239 billion, the Commerce Department said. The trade deficit in goods rose to $83.9 billion in August, the highest level on record.
So far this year, the overall goods and services deficit has increased $22.6 billion, or 5.7 percent, from the same period in 2019. Exports have fallen $296.1 billion, or 17.6 percent, while imports fell $273.5 billion, or 13.1 percent.
The rising trade deficit comes at an inconvenient moment for the Trump administration, which is eager to declare victory on its trade agenda as the election approaches. Economists caution against using the trade deficit as a measure of the economy’s health, but President Trump views the figure as a measure of his success in rewriting trade deals in the United States’ favor.
The overall U.S. trade deficit shrank last year for the first time in six years as the American economy cooled and the trade war Mr. Trump waged against China bit into imports. But the trade deficit is once again trending upward this year, as the growth in imported goods outpaces exports.
The hefty tariffs that Mr. Trump placed on more than $360 billion of Chinese products has caused the trade deficit with China to shrink, though Americans have switched to importing products from other countries instead.
In August, the trade deficit with China fell $1.9 billion to $26.4 billion, as exports rose and imports remained flat. But the trade deficit with Mexico hit a record of $12.8 billion.
On Tuesday morning, the World Trade Organization revised its forecast for global trade, projecting a smaller contraction than it had in April as economies begin reopening.
The W.T.O. now expects the volume of global trade in goods to fall 9.2 percent in 2020, compared with its previous forecast of a drop of at least a 12.9 percent. But it said that growth was likely to be weaker next year, rebounding just 7.2 percent in 2021 to leave trade well below pre-pandemic levels.

Stocks are directionless as stimulus talks continue.

  • Stocks drifted on Tuesday, as investors regrouped after a sharp gain the day before, as talks over a potential stimulus deal in the United States were expected to continue.
  • On Wall Street, the S&P 500 was slightly higher at the start of trading. European stocks were mixed, and Asian markets rose.
  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are scheduled to speak again on Tuesday to try to break the impasse over another round of fiscal stimulus. On Monday, they had an hourlong phone call and said they would share more documents between them as part of the negotiations.
  • President Trump left hospital late on Monday and returned to the White House, where he still has 24-hour medical care. The White House physician said the president “may not entirely be out of the woods yet,” and that it would be another week until doctors could be sure.
  • “President Trump may have left hospital, but it’s not given financial markets a major shot in the arm,” said Susannah Streeter, an analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown. “There is a wait-and-see attitude settling over the market with investors still nervous about the chances of a contested outcome of the U.S. presidential election.” In the meantime, investors are still hoping new stimulus will be agreed, she added.
  • Some technology shares fell after Bloomberg reported that Apple would stop selling third-party audio equipment on its website and in its stores. Shares in Logitech, a Swiss-based maker of peripherals including speakers, fell more than 5 percent, and Sonos, the maker of a wireless speakers based in California, slumped 4 percent
  • Oil prices rose extending Monday’s gain of more than 6 percent. Shares in British oil and gas company Premier Oil surged after it was announced that Chrysaor would take over the company and form the largest producer in the North Sea.
  • The International Monetary Fund expects to make a small revision to its 2020 global economic forecast to reflect that situation is “less dire” than it was in June when the fund said the economy would shrink by 4.9 percent, Reuters reported.
  • “But this calamity is far from over. All countries are now facing what I would call ‘the long ascent’ — a difficult climb that will be long, uneven, and uncertain. And prone to setbacks,” the I.M.F. managing director, Kristalina Georgieva, said on Tuesday.

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