Trade deficit hits two-year high

 

The nation’s trade deficit hit a two-year high in April as an increase in consumer demand pushed imports to a record level.

The gap expanded to $47.2 billion up 6.9 percent from March’s revised deficit of $44.2 billion, which was more than initially reported, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.

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The trade gap was the highest since April 2012.

The slowdown in U.S. exports — they were down 0.2 percent to $195.4 billion in April — in the past few months weighed on economic growth in the first three months of the year.

Imports increased 1.2 percent to a record-high $240.6 billion, up from $237.8 billion in March, as consumers purchased more computers and autos from overseas.

While economic growth contracted at a 1 percent annual rate in the first quarter, economists are estimating a much faster pace of expansion in the April-June quarter — upward of 4 percent.

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