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U.S. trade deficit hits record $74.4 billion in March

A man walks past an international goods market in Beijing, China on January 9. Tuesday's report said the U.S. deficit with China widened by almost $7 billion to nearly $37 billion during the month of March. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI
A man walks past an international goods market in Beijing, China on January 9. Tuesday's report said the U.S. deficit with China widened by almost $7 billion to nearly $37 billion during the month of March. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

May 4 (UPI) -- The U.S. international trade deficit rose to a record $74.4 billion in March with more imports on the books than exports, the Commerce Department said in a report Tuesday.

Exports of goods and services through international trade for the month rose 6.6% to $200 billion compared to imports of goods and services (up 6.3% to $274.5 billion), the report said.

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The record deficit -- the difference between what the United States buys from overseas and what it sells to other nations -- represents a 58% increase from the same period a year ago and marks the highest deficit since the data series began in January 1992.

In March, imports increased most ($4.5 billion) in consumer goods, including textile apparel, furniture, household goods, toys, games, sporting goods and cellphones.

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The March deficit was up about $4 billion from February and occurred amid widening gaps with China ($36.9 billion) and Mexico ($8.4 billion). The deficit with the European Union decreased more than $2 billion.

PNC Senior Economist Bill Adams says demand for foreign-made goods was aided by $1,400 stimulus payments given out last month for pandemic relief.

"Stimulus has kept American consumers spending through the pandemic, but restrictions on high-contact industries have diverted consumer spending from domestically-produced services to goods, much of which are imported," Adams wrote in Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly.

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"As the pandemic comes under control in the United States, American consumers will spend less on imported goods, shrinking imports; and foreigners will buy more U.S. exports as their economies recover further."

The United States recorded a $681 billion deficit for all of 2020, the largest yearly gap since 2008.

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