The trade deficit might have widened in September, but try telling that to U.S. jewelry makers, loggers and machine manufacturers who have customers in other countries.
U.S exports rose in September, making steady gains across economic sectors. That strength was hidden by a surge in oil imports, which helped widen the trade deficit for the month. Still, exports jumped 2.9 percent to $132 billion in September as factories sold more goods overseas.
That figure remains well below the all-time high of $164.4 billion set in July 2008. But there was unmistakable improvement during the month. And it might not just be a flash in the pan. If the value of the dollar continues to sink, it could make U.S. goods even more affordable overseas and increase demand.
Some sectors of the economy fared better than others -- with exports of jewelry, machinery and precious metals standing out -- but the improvement was evident across the board. Consumer goods, capital goods like factory equipment and automobiles all rose.
One exception was farm products, with exports of corn, soybeans and other foods falling steeply during the month.
Here's a look at items being shipped overseas, by the numbers.
BIG TICKET ITEMS
17 percent: September increase in industrial machinery exports, worth $2.8 billion.
3.2 percent: Jump in laboratory testing equipment exports, worth $729 million.
14 percent: Jump in generator exports, worth $860 million.
15 percent: Jump in textile and sewing machine exports, worth $93 million.
EXPORTING THE FINER THINGS
63 percent: Jump in jewelry exports, worth $715 million.
21 percent: Jump in art, antique and stamp exports, worth $434 million.
23 percent: Jump in glass and chinaware exports, worth $38 million.
2.5 percent: Jump in musical instrument exports, worth $161 million.
2.3 percent: Drop in computer exports, worth $989 million.
1.5 percent: Drop in semiconductor exports, worth $3.18 billion.
6 percent: Drop in telecommunications equipment exports, worth $2.3 billion.
AROUND THE HOUSE
2 percent: Jump in household appliance exports, worth $516 million.
9 percent: Jump in TV, VCR and similar equipment exports, worth $348 million.
7 percent: Jump in rug exports, worth $73 million.
3 percent: Jump in book and printed material exports, worth $449 million.
DOWN ON THE FARM
32 percent: Decrease in soybean exports, worth $952 million.
13 percent: Decrease in nut exports, worth $292 million.
15 percent: Decrease in rice exports, worth $140 million.
1 percent: Decrease in corn exports, worth $975 million.
30 percent: Jump in precious metals exports, worth $759 million.
30 percent: Jump in copper exports, worth $426 million.
6 percent: Jump in pulpwood and wood pulp exports, worth $634 million.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.