June 4, 2014 11:30 AM, EDT
Trade Gap Widest in Two Years
Port of Tacoma

The trade deficit ballooned in April to the widest in two years as Americans bought record amounts of consumer goods, business equipment and automobiles from abroad.

The gap grew by 6.9% to $47.2 billion from the prior month’s $44.2 billion, which was larger than previously estimated, Commerce Department figures showed.

The April reading exceeded all estimates in a Bloomberg News survey of 70 economists and was the largest since April 2012.

A rebound in U.S. growth after a harsh winter is likely to be driven by gains in consumer spending and business investment that will bolster imports. At the same time, slower expansions abroad will probably check gains in exports, keeping the trade gap wider.

“As the economy is stronger, we’re going to import more,” said David Berson, chief economist at Nationwide Insurance in Columbus, Ohio. Exports are “not very strong, and that’s a sign that the world economy is growing only at a modest pace.”

The Commerce Department initially reported a $40.4 billion shortfall for March. Today’s release included annual revisions that affected data back to 1999.

The Commerce Department’s trade report showed imports climbed 1.2 % in April to a record $240.6 billion from $237.8 billion in the prior month.