U.S. Trade Deficit Expands More Than Expected

Published by: Frank Galvano on 11th May 2011 | View all blogs by Frank Galvano
U.S. Trade Deficit Expands More Than Expected

The U.S. trade deficit widened more than economists were expecting in March despite exports reaching a new record high as imports rose almost 5 percent fueled mainly by a surge in oil prices, according to a report from the Commerce Department.  The deficit grew to $48.2 billion in March, from a downwardly revised $45.4 million in February.  Economists were expecting the trade gap to rise to $47.0 billion, on average.

U.S. exports increased 4.6 percent in March to $172.7 billion, the highest level ever recorded.  The increase is also the biggest monthly gain in exports since March 1994.  But imports grew even more, climbing 4.9 percent to $220.8 billion as oil prices surged amid continued political unrest in North Africa and the Middle East.  The average price for imported oil reached $93.76, the highest since September 2008.

The larger-than-expected deficit could lead to analysts reducing their already-weak estimates for 1Q economic growth, though the surge in both imports and exports would seem to indicate demand is on the rise both domestically and globally as trade returns to pre-recession levels.

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