WASHINGTON (AFP) – A surge in imports and skyrocketing oil prices pushed the US trade deficit in April to 60.9 billion dollars, government data showed Tuesday.
The monthly jump in the trade gap by 7.8 percent was the largest since September 2005 and was higher than economists’ estimates of 60 billion dollars.
The Commerce Department report showed a surge of 9.4 billion dollars in imports, including 5.4 billion dollars for oil and related products, outstripping the increase in exports of 5.0 billion dollars.
The politically sensitive trade deficit with China leapt 25.9 percent to 20.2 billion dollars, representing one-third of the overall gap.
The other big factor, petroleum, accounted for 34.5 billion dollars of the overall deficit. That was the second highest on record after the gap posted in January 2008.
The agency revised down its estimate for the March trade deficit to 56.5 billion dollars from an initial report of 58.2 billion.
The big US deficit is a factor in the weak dollar because it results in an outflow of cash from the United States, requiring foreign sellers to accept a growing amount of dollars. A high deficit also can result in weaker US economic growth by transferring output abroad.
US exports saw the biggest change since February of 2004, driven by a 2.2 billion dollar rise in capital goods, 769 billion of which was civilian aircraft. The value of Boeing’s foreign deliveries rose 20 percent in April and the ups and downs of its sales are frequently the single biggest monthly change in US exports.
Tue Jun 10, 8:53 AM ET