US trade gap narrows in October as oil exports surge

Oil refinery Texas The US has been promoting its domestic oil and gas industries

Related Stories

The US trade gap narrowed in October, as rising sales of oil pushed US exports to a record high, the US Commerce Department has said.

The trade deficit shrank to $40.6bn (£24.8bn) from $43bn in September, a drop of 5.4%.

Exports rose 1.8%, while petroleum exports rose 9.3%. The increase broke three months of falling exports.

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve has said in a report that the economy is growing at a "modest to moderate rate".

Imports rose by just 0.4% while oil imports were 1.5% higher.

The figures showed US exports to China hit a record high as its trade gap with the Asian power narrowed.

Exports to Canada and Mexico also reached a new high, but imports from the European Union increased and the US's trade deficit with the EU hit a record.

Analysts say the smaller trade deficit, which was broadly in line with expectations, would help the US economic recovery.

It suggests American firms are selling more products abroad while buying less from foreign competition.

In the US, the domestic oil boom has been due mostly to fracking, a new technique used to get oil from shale deposits in locations such as North Dakota and Texas.

But the technology has come under fire by critics concerned about the environmental impacts of the procedure.

The US Energy Information Administration says imports now make up 40% of US oil consumption - down from the 60% peak reached in 2005.

Growth

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve has said that the US economy saw steady growth through October to late November.

All 12 of the Fed's regions reported growth, with most sectors also reporting expansion.

Manufacturers were optimistic about near-term growth prospects, and retailers had also been hopeful ahead of the holiday shopping season that kicked off last week with Black Friday.

Hiring improved in five of the districts, with the other seven reporting little change.

However, the Fed noted that employers were worried about the workforce skills base.

"Difficulty with finding qualified workers, especially for high-skilled positions, was frequently reported," the report said.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Business stories

RSS

Business Live

  1.  
    12:29: Greek cabinet confirmed
    Yanis Varoufakis

    Economics professor Yanis Varoufakis (centre of the picture above) has confirmed he will become Greece's next finance minister today, promising to defy advice to "put up or shut up" and find solutions that favour all Europeans rather than just Greeks. Mr Varoufakis isn't one for mincing his words. On the Today programme on Monday he described the economic policies of the previous government as a form of "fiscal waterboarding".

     
  2.  
    12:14: UK GDP
    gdp

    The economics elves here at the BBC have updated the economy tracker, so you can see how we are faring compared with yesteryear.

     
  3.  
    Via Twitter Simon Gompertz Personal finance correspondent, BBC News

    tweets: Tell the competition authority what you think of companies profiting from the data they have on you.

     
  4.  
    Facebook back! Via Email

    Facebook explains its downtime: "Earlier today many people had trouble accessing Facebook and Instagram. This was not the result of a third party attack but instead occurred after we introduced a change that affected our configuration systems. We moved quickly to fix the problem, and both services are back to 100% for everyone."

     
  5.  
    11:37: Waitrose jobs

    Waitrose has just put out a press release saying it expects to create 2,000 jobs in new and "extended" shops, as well as in a new online grocery depot. They are opening seven supermarkets and seven convenience stores. One in King's Cross includes a cookery school.

     
  6.  
    11:24: UK GDP
    Ed Balls

    Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls has been reacting to today's GDP figures. He points out the government promised to rebalance the economy but that hasn't materialised yet. He says the latest figures show manufacturing was flat and construction output falling. That's not technically right either. For instance, yes construction output was 1.8% lower in the fourth quarter, where construction can be slower. Overall, it is up 6% year-on-year, according to the ONS.

     
  7.  
    11:09: UK GDP
    George Osborne

    The Chancellor says the latest GDP figures show the UK is the fastest growing "major economy". We're not sure that's technically correct given that China, the second largest economy in the world, grew by 7.4% in 2014. Also the US economy was charging ahead in the third quarter of last year and we've not yet had final GDP figures from across the pond.

     
  8.  
    FCA grilling Via Email Ramzan Karmali Business reporter, BBC News

    Financial Conduct Authority Chair and CEO being quizzed by MPs on the Davis Report which was highly critical of the FCA and how it leaked highly sensitive information to the media. Martin Wheatley insisted that it was not part of the FCA's culture to generate headlines

     
  9.  
    Apprenticeships Via Email Greig Kelly, Business live reader

    "I am currently three and a half months into a markets operations apprenticeship at HSBC in Canary Wharf, I have found it to be very fruitful both socially and with the opportunities I have been given, whilst earning a competitive salary. I feel apprenticeships are undervalued in industries such as banking where experience means as much, if not more, than a degree."

     
  10.  
    10:31: UK GDP

    In fairness to the OBR, it did originally forecast GDP growth for 2014 of 2.7% back in March last year. We wonder why it revised up its prediction?

     
  11.  
    10:22: UK GDP
    Graph showing components of UK GDP

    It's worth noting a couple of things from today's GDP figures. The first is that the official estimate is below the forecast from the Office for Budget Responsibility at the time of the Autumn Statement that economic growth would be 3% in 2014. The second is that while, as the ONS says, there has been widespread growth across all major components of GDP since the start of 2013, the service industries remain the largest and steadiest contributor to economic growth.

     
  12.  
    10:06: Easyjet trading update
    An easyJet plane,

    Easyjet is up 3% after reporting a 3.8% rise in revenue to £931m for the three months to the end of December. It adds passenger numbers grew by 4.1% in the quarter to 14.9 million. Easyjet says first half bookings are in line with last year and that it expects to report a first half pre-tax loss of between £10m and £30m assuming normal levels of disruption compared to the £53m loss reported in the first half of last year.

     
  13.  
    Apprenticeships Via Email Martyn Fenton, Business live reader

    "So who is largest supplier of apprenticeships in UK? The armed forces. And where have been government cuts been focussed on - the armed forces. Double speak or Mr Cameron doesn't know his brief."

     
  14.  
    09:30: Banking figures
    key

    Some banking stats from the British Bankers' Association, which lobbies for the industry. ISA deposits in 2014 were 57% higher than in 2013 after the increase in investment limits. House purchase approvals up 9% in 2014.

     
  15.  
    09:30: UK GDP

    For the whole of 2014 the UK economy grew by 2.6%. That marks the best economic performance since 2007, the Office For National Statistics says.

     
  16.  
    UK GDP 09:30: Breaking News

    The UK economy grew by 0.5% in the last three months of 2014, official figures show.

     
  17.  
    GDP preview Via Email Tom Turner, Business live reader

    "Is Richard Portes suggesting we should find a different surgeon then? Because the only two on offer are; the one that nearly killed us and the one that has us recovering.... If a little slower than he thought it might."

     
  18.  
    09:16: Universal benefits BBC Radio 4

    Asked if well-off pensioners could lose benefits such as free travel passes and the Winter Fuel Allowance after the next election , something the prime minister promised would be protected at the last election, Mr Cameron says: "I've always said there aren't huge savings to be made by axing these benefits... I don't think it would be fair to ask pensioners to make the biggest adjustment." He adds pensioners have £800 more in their pension than before he came to power.

     
  19.  
    09:02: Paper review
    paper

    More Greek analysis from the newspapers this morning. Greece and its creditors "dig in" over the debt struggle, says the FT. The Wall St Journal says Europe's "political establishment moved quickly to douse hopes" of a debt restructure. The Times's business section leads on a drop in Greek bank shares. The Telegraph has more on that benefit cap cut proposed by Mr Cameron.

     
  20.  
    Via Email Flydubai spokesperson

    After landing at Baghdad International Airport (BGW) on 26 January 2015, damage to the aircraft fuselage consistent with small arms fire was discovered on flydubai flight FZ 215. All the passengers disembarked normally through the jet bridge. No medical attention was required at the airport. Passengers from Baghdad to Dubai were accommodated on a replacement aircraft. An investigation is underway to establish what happened.

     
  21.  
    08:43: Market update

    Small movements early on in European share trading. London's benchmark FTSE 100 index of top companies has nudged 0.08% lower to 6,846.74 points, Frankfurt's DAX 30 shed 0.12% to 10,785.90 and the CAC 40 in Paris lost 0.07% to 4,671.76 points.

     
  22.  
    08:36: Aircraft fired on
    plane

    Flights between the United Arab Emirates and Baghdad have been suspended after a FlyDubai aircraft was hit by gunfire as it approached the Iraqi capital. No-one was injured in the attack, the budget carrier said. Etihad and Emirates have also suspended their services to Baghdad as a precaution.

     
  23.  
    08:33: Economy BBC Breakfast
    Miliband

    "There are big economic and social challenges," says Labour leader Ed Miliband on Breakfast. "They [the Conservative party] say everything's fixed... I don't agree. People are £1,600 worse off at the end of this parliament than the beginning."

     
  24.  
    08:28: Welfare to work BBC Radio 4

    Did you hear the starting gun? It's 100 days until the general election, so campaigning begins. Mr Cameron's talking on Today about proposals to cut the benefit cap to £23,000. Will that mean more people go out and find work? The Prime Minister says that around 40% of people that have been effected by the current cap have gone out and sought work. He says the government will use the money saved from reducing the benefit cap - if the Conservatives win the election - to create 3 million apprenticeships.

     
  25.  
    08:17: GDP preview BBC Radio 4

    Economic professor Richard Portes of the Centre for Economic Policy Research takes up Mr Littlewood's surgical metaphor in relation to the government's economic policies but says "the patient almost died". The actual proportion of people in work is still lower than before the financial crisis while wages are 6% lower than they should be, he says. If the government points to the way in which the deficit has been handled its story ahead of the election isn't very good at all, he adds.

     
  26.  
    Apprenticeships Via Email Chris Pocock, a Business live reader from Sheffield

    "The pay of apprentices at Ford Dagenham is not typical. The government's own evidence to the Low Pay Commission indicates shockingly high levels of non-compliance by employers in paying apprentices the national minimum wage."

     
  27.  
    07:53: Carpetright sales

    Carpetright has reported a 7.5% rise in UK like-for-like sales in the three months to 24 January. It has also kept its full year profit guidance unchanged. Like-for-like sale in the rest of Europe rose 1.7%, it adds.

     
  28.  
    07:40: GDP preview BBC Radio 4

    The government hasn't stuck to its deficit plans, says Mark Littlewood on Today, but it has stuck to its spending plans. We have several more years before we will be living within our means but "the direction of travel" is the most important thing. "If the government had said to hell with this, we're going to carry on as before, then markets would have had more of a wobble," he says, but a deficit reduction target of five years achieved in eight, while disappointing, is far less of a concern.

     
  29.  
    07:25: Apprenticeships BBC Breakfast
    Cameron

    Prime Minister David Cameron is on Breakfast. He's talking about apprenticeships: "we overplayed university and downplayed apprenticeships" he says, whereas "both are important." He says after visiting apprentices at Ford in Dagenham trainees can earn £30,000 after four years. Does that match your experience, readers? bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk

     
  30.  
    Facebook down Via Twitter Rory Cellan-Jones Technology correspondent

    "Hacker group Lizard Squad -@lizardmafia - claiming it's taken down Facebook, Instagram and other sites."

     
  31.  
    07:14: Aer Lingus bid

    British Airways owner IAG says the board of Aer Lingus has indicated "that the financial terms of [its] proposal are at a level at which it would be willing to recommend [the takeover approach] to Aer Lingus shareholders" after Monday's €2.55 per share offer for the Irish carrier. Aer Lingus appears to be letting IAG have a look at its accounts, granting it access to "perform a limited period of confirmatory due diligence."

     
  32.  
    07:12: Facebook back!
    facebook

    Facebook appears to be back. Panic over, everyone.

     
  33.  
    07:10: Facebook down

    Facebook is down in France, Australia, Spain and Singapore, readers and colleagues tell us. A colleague is busy furiously poking the organisation to find out what's going on. Reader Kath Olliffe in Sydney writes in: "It's a strange feeling because you kind of want to post a status that FB is down and what are we all to do. You want to look up FB to see if there is something wrong with FB!"

     
  34.  
    07:07: GDP preview BBC Radio 4

    The latest estimate of UK economic growth will be released at 9:30 today and the economic recovery is looking increasingly likely to be the government's main story during the election. Has it a good story to tell? Mark Littlewood, director general at the Institute of Economic Affairs, tells Today that broadly, yes it does. He thinks the government will say: "we're only about half way through the surgery and May isn't the time to change the surgeon".

     
  35.  
    06:55: GDP preview BBC Breakfast
    stoke

    Not to be out-done by Wake Up to Money's trip to Aston, Breakfast has sent presenter Steph McGovern to a ceramics factory in Stoke to see if the predicted GDP growth is benefiting people. Lisa Grimley says supermarket prices remain high, especially food. Energy bills need to come down before things improve. Since the credit crisis, petrol prices have reduced and that's about it. "It's a struggle for young people."

     
  36.  
    Facebook down Via Email Steven Weerdenburg Business live reader

    It's 1.50 am and Facebook is down in Toronto. Looks like I might have to go to sleep after all.

     
  37.  
    06:47: GDP preview Radio 5 live

    Wake Up to Money presenter Adam Parsons is in East End Foods in Aston, near Birmingham. "It's like being in Terminal 2" he says. He's there in preparation for today's GDP figure. Jason Wouhra, director of the firm, says stable interest rates have helped confidence in investing. Curry ingredients, corn flakes and coke are the more popular items.

     
  38.  
    06:38: Facebook down
    offline

    Forget the GDP figures. This is much bigger news. Facebook is offline everyone. Facebook is down! Is this just a UK problem? Get in touch and let us know at bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk or tweet us @bbcbusiness to tell us how you are coping.

     
  39.  
    06:32: GDP preview Radio 5 live

    Virginie Maisonneuve of asset manager Pimco is on Wake Up to Money talking about GDP. She expects 0.6% growth in this fourth quarter first estimate from the Office for National Statistics. GDP is forecast by a number of experts to have grown by 2.6% for the year, the same level as in 2007 and up from 1.7% in 2013.

     
  40.  
    06:23: Market update Radio 5 live

    Virginie Maisonneuve of asset manager Pimco is talking on Wake Up to Money about the markets. They were mainly up yesterday. Minority parties taking power in Europe has "not been taken seriously" by the market she says.

     
  41.  
    06:07: Greek election fallout Radio 5 live

    More from Yannis Zabetakis, a lecturer at the university of Athens, is on Wake Up to Money. Youth unemployment at 50% is another dangerous signal for the country, he says. He also denies Greece is a special case. While there's growth in Britain under austerity, the wealth gap is widening and there are more people in poverty, he says.

     
  42.  
    06:02: Greek election fallout Radio 5 live
    A supporter of Alexis Tsipras, leader of Syriza left-wing party, holds the Greek and French flag

    Yannis Zabetakis, a lecturer at the university of Athens, is on 5 live talking about the debt burden on Greece. More than a million unemployed means paying off the debt is very difficult, he says. Employment prospects for his students are very poor and he recommends setting up an export company or going abroad. Salaries are going down and tax up, he adds.

     
  43.  
    06:01: Matthew West Business Reporter

    Morning folks. Get in touch at bizlivepage@bbc.co.uk ot tweet us at @bbcbusiness.

     
  44.  
    06:00: Howard Mustoe Business reporter

    Good morning. At 09:30 we expect the first estimate for fourth quarter gross domestic product for the UK. There'll also be company results from 07:00. Stay with us.

     

Features

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.