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Trade Data: Good And Bad For U.S. Economy

By John S. McClenahen The key element in the U.S. international trade data for October, released Dec. 12 by the Commerce Department, is that exports grew for the fifth time in six months, says Jerry J. Jasinowski, president of the National Association of Manufacturers, Washington, D.C. "We are optimistic that this is an emerging trend that will help make 2004 a better year than 2003 for manufacturers," says Jasinowski, who notes that capital goods and industrial applies accounted for two-thirds of October's $2.242 billion month-to-month increase in exports. However, although U.S. exports of goods and services did advance in October, the overall U.S. trade deficit increased $432 million from September as imports of $129.732 billion exceeded exports of $87.959 billion. October's deficit was $41.773 billion. And that, figures New York-based UBS Investment Research, now makes it likely that trade will subtract one percentage point from inflation-adjusted U.S. GDP growth for this calendar quarter. In contrast, trade added 1.2 percentage points to U.S. economic growth during this year's spectacular third quarter.

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