U.S. trade deficit widens to $47.2 billion as exports slowdown

Rising imports indicate increased consumer and business confidence and a strengthening economy.
By Ananth Baliga  |  June 4, 2014 at 11:55 AM
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WASHINGTON, June 4 (UPI) -- The U.S. trade deficit continued to widened to a two-year high in April as Americans continued to purchase a record number of imported goods.

The figures released by the Commerce Department, show that the trade gap widened to $47.2 billion in April, up from the prior month's $44.2 billion. Commerce Department numbers show that imports grew 1.2 percent and exports fell by 0.2 percent. The trade deficit was higher than $40.9 billion estimate made by economists polled by The Wall Street Journal.

The report offers a mixed outlook for the economy. On the one hand rising imports to goods suggest that consumers and businesses are showing more confidence in the economy after a sluggish start to the year due to unusually harsh winter weather. But stagnating exports show that the global economy is still struggling to recover, possibly weighing down the U.S. economy.

"The U.S. economy is expanding and so we're pulling in imports from abroad," said David Berson, chief economist at Nationwide Insurance in Columbus, Ohio. "What was unexpected is that exports really didn't move at all. This is a sign of relative weakness abroad, particularly in Europe, and also China has clearly slowed."

Import of mobile telephones, autos and parts, computers and telecommunications equipment jumped signaling increased consumer confidence. But this increased spending means fewer goods and services purchased are being made in the U.S., which will affect growth.

Exports remained stagnant clocking in $193.3 billion as compared to $193.7 billion in March, according to the report.

U.S. trade deficit with China grew by $7 billion in April, growing by 3.2 percent for the first four months of the 2014 as compared to the same period last year. Exports to the E.U. fell in April but are still up 7.1 percent for the year as compared to last year.

Topics: David Berson
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