Despite some red flags in the economies of some key trade partners, California businesses shipping goods abroad had a pretty good October.
California exported goods valued at $13.87 billion in October, up about 0.4 percent from $13.81 billion in October 2011, according to an analysis of Tuesday's U.S. Commerce Department trade figures by Beacon Economics, a consulting firm with offices in the Bay Area and Los Angeles.
October's total was a nearly 8 percent improvement over September's $12.87 billion.
The small year-over-year improvement broke a three-month string of declines, although Beacon said the October total represented a 2.4 percent decline from a year ago when adjusted for inflation.
July marked the end of a 32-month streak of gains.
Beacon officials said October's numbers were held down by weakening economic conditions in some foreign markets and recessions in others. However, analysts also cited comparatively strong results for California shipments of manufactured and non-manufactured goods.
"Despite adverse economic circumstances in much of the world, October saw real growth in exports of goods produced here in California," said Jock O'Connell, Beacon's international trade adviser.
California exports of manufactured goods totaled $8.93 billion, up 4.2 percent from October 2011, and non-manufactured exports (chiefly agricultural products and raw materials) rose 7 percent to $1.98 billion.
However, re-exports fell by a significant 12.7 percent to $2.96 billion.
Jordan Levine, Beacon's director of economic research, also noted that "San Jose, Sacramento Santa Rosa, Modesto and Stockton all added more than 1,000 new manufacturing jobs over last October, showing that the industry is growing in key parts of the state."
Comparing three-month totals for this year and last year, Beacon saw a significant 17.7 percent fall-off in exports of industrial equipment. Officials said that reflected a softness in the market for personal computers in the face of rising tablet sales.
However, over the same period, there were notable gains in California exports of fruits and nuts (10.2 percent), pharmaceutical products (10.2 percent) and aircraft/aerospace equipment (22.1 percent).
Beacon noted that November's export figures likely will be affected by last month's labor strike at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. However, analysts said most of the delayed shipments will show up in December's export figures. Four of the eight strike days were in November.
On the import side, California took in $35.54 billion in October, up from nearly $32 billion in October last year. Some goods entering California go to other states, so exports are considered a more accurate measure of the state's trade health.
Nationally, the U.S. trade deficit swelled 4.8 percent to $42.3 billion from September to October.
Exports of goods and services dipped 3.6 percent to $180.5 billion. Officials said sales of commercial aircraft, autos and farm products were down. Imports fell 2.1 percent to $222.8 billion.