American Oil Boom Shrinks Trade Deficit

From The Wall Street Journal

By Ben Casselman

America’s oil boom is pumping up exports and driving down the trade deficit.

The U.S. trade gap narrowed by $2.3 billion in September, to $41.5 billion, the Commerce Department said Thursday. Oil accounted for more than three quarters of the change, with a $2.2 billion surge in oil exports easily offsetting a small increase in imports.

The one-month change doesn’t mean much — the deficit could widen again when October figures are released next month. But the longer-run trend is unmistakable: The U.S. is importing less oil and exporting more.

The U.S. spent $32.8 billion on oil imports in September and sold $11.2 billion in oil — virtually all of it in the form of gasoline, diesel and other so-called petroleum products — to customers in other countries, for a trade deficit of $21.7 billion. A year ago, that deficit stood at $26.3 billion. Adjusting for inflation, the deficit has shrunk by nearly 40% over the past five years.

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