A slowing world economy is having its effect on trade — though apparently by slowing worldwide demand instead of cutting demand in the highly consumer-dependent U.S., the latest U.S. trade statistics show.

The October trade deficit worsened to $57.2 billion from $56.6 billion in September, as exports fell more than imports during the period.

Imports dropped $2.7 billion, but exports declined a larger $3.4 billion to their lowest level since January as lower petroleum and metals prices lowered industrial supply exports. Civilian aircraft exports also fell, printing negative $610 million, perhaps as the aftermath of the Boeing Corp. strike delayed deliveries.

The imports drop was led by a $1.6 billion plunge in oil and related items, a $921 million decline in autos, and a $626 million slide in computer accessories. Imports of consumer goods advanced $466 million in total.

In energy, the average imported oil price fell a record $15.56, no surprise given plunging futures prices. But, surprising for a slower economy, the drop resulted in a 24% surge in the quantity of imported crude to an average 10,458 barrels per day.

The real trade balance has widened in October from the third-quarter average, suggesting a subtraction from gross domestic product.

Unadjusted trade balances by country show China at a record $28 billion deficit after a $27.8 billion shortfall in September, and Japan at a $6 billion deficit after a $5.6 billion gap.

— Market News International

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