U.S. trade gap widens as exports slip

Chilean fruit cargo arrives in May in Philadelphia.

Chilean fruit cargo arrives in May in Philadelphia. The U.S. trade gap rose to $45 billion that month. (May 14, 2013) (Credit: AP )

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The U.S. trade deficit widened in May to its highest level in six months as a sluggish global economy depressed U.S. exports, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.

Fewer exports mean U.S. growth in the April-June quarter could be weaker than previously forecast.

The trade deficit rose to $45 billion in May, up 12.1 percent from $40.1 billion in April. It was the largest trade gap since November.

Exports slipped 0.3 percent to $187.1 billion. Sales of American farm products dropped to their lowest point in more than two years. U.S. exports have been hurt by recessions in many European countries.

Imports rose 1.9 percent to $232.1 billion. Imports of autos and other nonpetroleum products hit an all-time high.

The U.S. trade deficit is running at an annual rate of $501.2 billion, 6.3 percent lower than last year's gap.

A trade gap can restrain growth because it means consumers and businesses are spending more on foreign goods than companies are taking in from overseas sales.

The U.S. deficit with China jumped 15.6 percent to $27.9 billion in May. That's close to the all-time monthly high set in November. So far this year, the U.S. deficit with China, the largest with any country, is running 3 percent higher than last year.-- AP

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