Record U.S. Exports Led by Caterpillar Seen in Worldwide Markets

By Shobhana Chandra,

U.S. exports, a driver of expansion in the world’s largest economy, will grow next year even as a sovereign-debt crisis pushes Europe into recession.

The euro area’s share of overseas sales for American-made goods has dwindled to 13 percent from 19 percent at the peak in the early 1990s, according to Joseph Carson of AllianceBernstein LP. A trade shock that cuts all euro-zone imports by 10 percent in the next 12 months would trim U.S. economic output by only 0.2 percent, UBS AG estimates.

Total U.S. exports — responsible for almost half of growth since the 18-month recession ended in June 2009 — reached a record $ 180.4 billion in September, even as Europe’s woes were escalating. America’s push into faster-growing emerging markets such as China is helping to sustain demand for goods from Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) machinery to Apple Inc. iPhones.

“The best thing for the economy is that growth in the rest of the world is positive,” said Carson, director of global economic research at AllianceBernstein in New York and a former Commerce Department economist. “It is likely our exports slow down, but it doesn’t mean they collapse. We’ll still have an investment- and export-led expansion next year.”

Sales of U.S. goods abroad have jumped 29 percent in the nine quarters of the recovery, the fastest growth at the start of any economic rebound in the past five decades, as the country “piggybacked” on demand in developing nations, said Carson, who is also a former chief U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank AG.

U.S. merchandise exports to emerging economies climbed 20 percent (MXEF) through September from a year earlier, while sales to the euro area grew 14 percent, Carson said. Developing markets now account for 55 percent of U.S. goods shipments, which include crude oil and natural gas, up from 40 percent in 2000.

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