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The U.S. trade deficit widened more than expected in September, making it less likely for trade to have contributed to growth in the third quarter.

The trade deficit expanded 4.9 per cent to $61.5-billion from a modestly revised $58.7-billion in August, which was the lowest level since September 2020, the Commerce Department said on Tuesday. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the trade deficit shrinking to $59.9-billion in September.

Exports of goods and services increased 2.2 per cent to $261.1-billion. Goods exports shot up 3.1 per cent to $176.7-billion. At $84.4-billion, exports of services were the highest on record.

Imports of goods and services rose 2.7 per cent to $322.7-billion. Goods imports rose 2.7 per cent to $263.0-billion, while services imports rose 2.6 per cent to $59.6-billion.

The services surplus retreated modestly to $24.8-billion from a revised $25.9-billion. In the advance reading of third-quarter gross domestic product reported last month, trade was a fractional drag on the period’s outsized 4.9 per cent annualized growth rate.

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