U.S. trade deficit widens despite record exports
The U.S. trade deficit jumped nearly 15 percent in January as strong demand for imports reflected economic growth but raised concerns that American exports -- despite a record-setting month -- were not keeping pace.
The $46 billion shortfall, up from $40.3 billion in December, partly reflected rising world oil prices. But it was largely driven by consumers buying up imported goods and businesses bringing in capital and industrial goods from overseas.
America's trade deficit with China accounted for about half the overall shortfall, rising to $23.3 billion from $20.7 billion the month before.
Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, in a statement, emphasized the record export number. U.S. firms recorded $167.7 billion in overseas sales in January, up 2.7 percent from the month before.
"We've now seen private-sector job growth for 12 straight months, and increasing U.S. exports play a key role in that," Locke said.
But others noted that a singular focus on exports glosses over the rest of the equation. The higher-than-expected jump in the deficit, "will be a bigger drag on...real GDP growth," said Barclays Capital, which has scaled back its expectations of U.S. economic growth for the first three months of the year from a 3.5 percent annual rate to 3 percent.
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