The Week Ahead

MERCHANDISE TRADE DEFICIT Tuesday, Nov. 19, 8:30 a.m.

The foreign trade deficit is expected to have narrowed slightly in September, to $6.2 billion, from $6.8 billion in August, according to economists surveyed by MMS International, a division of McGraw-Hill Inc. Exports, which have dropped in three of the past four months, probably rebounded in September. Imports, which fell 0.6% in August, are expected to be little changed. However, imports may have risen more strongly than projected. That's suggested by a sharp gain in customs-duty payments. That would mean the trade deficit widened in September, as it has through the summer months. In June, the deficit hit an eight-year low of $3.8 billion. But since then, export growth has slowed down, while imports, especially foreign cars and crude oil, have begun to pick up.

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