Canada's trade deficit widens to $3.4 billion in August

A worker assembles a switch for a washing machine at a Whirlpool plant in Clyde Ohio

The U.S. goods and services deficit was $42.4 billion in August, the Commerce Department said Thursday, slightly less than in July following a small spike in exports. July's trade deficit was downwardly revised slightly from $43.7 billion to $43.6 billion.

Overall, U.S. exporters are benefiting recently from an improving global economy and a weaker dollar, which makes American products less expensive overseas. The overall trade deficit was up 8.8% compared with the first eight months of 2016. The strength helped prompt the Bank of Canada to raise its key interest rate target twice; however, the pace of growth is expected to slow in the second half of the year.

The agency says a decline in exports drove the increased trade deficit, while imports were unchanged.

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Exports of goods increased a slight $600 million, while imports of goods decreased $300 million, underpinned by volatility in the energy category.

The drop came as exports of consumer goods and basic and industrial chemical, plastic and rubber products, as well as metal ores and non-metallic minerals moved lower. Minimizing that gap boosts US economic growth.

"The outcome of the NAFTA renegotiations also poses some risk, but with negotiations moving slowly, it is unlikely to impact trade this year". Next week, the United States begins a fourth round of talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico. The gap in goods with Mexico climbed 26 percent to $6.2 billion in August, and the goods deficit with China rose 4 percent to $34.9 billion.

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