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WASHINGTON: A drop in exports helped widen the US trade gap in October, government figures showed Tuesday, with decreases seen in shipments of industrial supplies and consumer goods.

The overall trade deficit rose $4 billion to $78.2 billion in October, Commerce Department data showed, slightly more than expected.

Exports have weakened in recent months as global economies grapple with inflation and higher interest rates, while a stronger US dollar has made American goods more pricey for foreign consumers.

Although the US central bank has also embarked on an all-out campaign to raise interest rates and cool the world’s biggest economy, imports continued rising, the latest figures showed.

Imports picked up in October to $334.8 billion on goods including automotives and parts, but demand for consumer products eased with a drop in items like mobile phones and sporting goods.

US goods trade deficit widens sharply in October

Meanwhile, the value of exports eased to $256.6 billion on a fall in industrial supplies and materials such as natural gas and petroleum products.

Consumer goods, in particular pharmaceutical preparations, slipped as well.

The US deficit with China decreased to $26.1 billion in October, data showed.

“The pattern may be set for the near-term trade outlook, with waning global demand for US goods weighing more heavily on exports,” said Matthew Martin of Oxford Economics.

This contrasts against improved imports, which “continue to be supported by a strong dollar and resilient consumer spending.”

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