The US trade deficit widened in September to $43bn as exports slowed and imports remained flat from the previous month, the country’s Commerce Department has said.

Exports fell $3bn to $195.6bn in the month, while imports held at $238.6bn.

Falling oil prices hit exports: the decline by value was led by petroleum products and fuel oil.

Meanwhile, total imports were bolstered by the launch of new smartphones from Apple and other producers, imports of which surged 27.1% in the month.

The data suggested the US is feeling the impact of the global economic slowdown and its impact on international trade overall.

Overall this year the trade deficit has continued to grow at a moderate pace. Over the first nine months, the deficit reached $378.1bn, 4.1% over 2013. Exports are up 3.2% year-on-year while imports gained 3.3%.

Economist Jim O'Sullivan said the deficit could well lead to a lower second estimate of US GDP growth in the third quarter. The initial estimate, released last week, put growth at a surprisingly firm 3.5%, on the assumption that the September shortfall was only $38.1bn.

The change is enough to subtract 0.4 percentage points from the growth rate, he said.