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The US trade deficit widened in March at the fastest rate in 10 months, with growing demand for foreign cars, mobile phones, clothing and oil leading to a 5.2% rise in imports.
The US trade deficit widened in March at the fastest rate in 10 months, official figures from the Commerce Department showed Thursday, with a rise in consumer goods lifting imports to a record level and cancelling out gains in US exports.
Data from the Commerce Department put the deficit at $51.8 billion in March, up from $45.4 billion February, the BBC reports. The 14 percent rise was the sharpest month-to-month increase since a 16 percent jump in May 2011. Growing demand for foreign cars, mobile phones, clothing and oil saw imports rise by 5.2 percent to $238.6 billion, negating a 2.9 percent rise in exports to $168.6 billion.
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According to the Associated Press, sales to Europe reached an all-time high, despite the debt crisis currently raging in the euro zone. Exports to the 27 European Union states rose 11.5 percent to $25.1 billion, although imports from the EU also reached record levels, rising 22.7 percent to just below $35 billion.
The greater-than-expected rise follows government data released Wednesday showing that wholesale inventories grew less than expected in March, leading analysts to conclude that Washington will have to lower its first-quarter estimate of gross domestic product from the 2.2 percent rate published last month, Fox Business reports.
The US trade deficit is running at an annual rate of almost $600 billion, which is around 7 percent more than the previous year.
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