The U.S. merchandise-trade deficit widened in September for the first time in six months as imports grew and some exports plunged.
The shortfall widened 5.7% to $92.2 billion last month, Commerce Department data showed Oct. 26. The figures, which aren’t adjusted for inflation, compared with a median estimate for a gap of $87.5 billion in a Bloomberg survey of economists.
Exports declined 1.5% to $177.6 billion. Imports rose to $269.8 billion, also the first increase since March.
Members of another railroad union rejected a tentative agreement on wages and work conditions reached with the freight railroads in September, further clouding the outlook for labor peace after the White House brokered a deal to avert a strike.
The latest vote, by the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, sends the two sides back to the negotiating table. Failure to agree on a revised deal could result in a strike as early as December.
Congestion has cleared up at the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which together make up the busiest container-terminal complex in the United States. But the slowdown hasn’t gone away: Instead, the same overabundance of cargo can now be found at Houston, which is the biggest container port on the U.S. Gulf Coast.
“We currently see a lack of storage in Houston, as well as minimal chassis availability and vessel congestion at Houston area terminals,” said Paul Brashier, VP of Drayage and Intermodal for ITS Logistics, in the company’s latest supply chain index report. “Houston is seeing higher inbound volumes, a chassis imbalance and terminal congestion above normal levels.”