The U.S. trade deficit widened moderately in January as both imports and exports increased strongly.
The trade deficit increased 1.6% to $68.3 billion, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. Data for December was revised to show the trade gap widening to $67.2 billion instead of $67.4 billion as previously reported. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the trade deficit rising to $68.9 billion.
Part of the widening in the trade gap likely reflects renewed increases in the prices of goods and commodities.
Imports increased 3.0% to $325.8 billion, with goods surging 3.7% to $267.9 billion. Imports of motor vehicles, parts and engines were the highest on record.
Consumer goods imports rose $4.1 billion, lifted by increases in cellphones and other household goods as well as pharmaceutical preparations, toys, games and sporting goods. Capital goods imports increased $1.4 billion, reflecting rises in electric apparatus and telecommunications equipment.
Imports of services edged up $0.1 billion to $57.9 billion, mostly driven by travel. Transport services fell.
Exports shot up 3.4% to $257.5 billion. Goods exports jumped 6.0% to $177.8 billion. Exports of capital goods were the highest on record, as were those of consumer goods, motor vehicles, parts and engines.
But exports of services fell $1.6 billion to $79.7 billion, pulled down by declines in travel and transport. Exports of other business services increased.
Adjusting for inflation, the goods trade deficit increased 3.6% to $101.8 billion in January. A smaller trade deficit was one of the contributors to the economy’s 2.7% annualized growth rate in the fourth quarter.
The Atlanta Federal Reserve is currently forecasting first-quarter gross domestic product increasing at a 2.0% pace.
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