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WASHINGTON: With American firms on a buying spree for computers and industrial goods amid higher fuel prices, the US trade deficit surged in September to another record, the government reported Thursday.

But purchases of autos declined amid the ongoing shortage of semiconductors, the data showed.

US exports fell while imports rose, driving the trade gap to $80.9 billion, an 11.2 percent increase over August, the Commerce Department reported.

The deficit has widened 33 percent in the first nine months of the year compared to the same period of last year as the US economy has bounced back strongly from the Covid-19 downturn, driving demand for goods.

US trade gap yawns wider as imports outpace exports in August

Imports of computers jumped $1.2 billion, while industrial supplies increased nearly $1 billion, including a $400 million increase in crude oil, which has seen prices jump in recent months to above $80 a barrel.

But auto and parts imports plummeted by over $2 billion, according to the report.

Mahir Rasheed of Oxford Economics said the deficit is likely to remain high through the end of 2020, but "moderation in domestic demand will cool import volumes while steady vaccine diffusion and slower virus spread should underpin stronger export growth."

The US trade deficit with China jumped by $3.4 billion to $31.5 billion, while the gap with Mexico rose $2.3 billion to $8.8 billion, according to the report.

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