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Record-Breaking Good News About U.S. Exports Dampened by Escalating Oil Prices

Yesterday the U.S. Department of Commerce announced that the U.S. trade deficit (goods and services) increased by 6 percent to $48.2 billion, the highest level recorded since June 2010.

In March, American firms sold the most goods and services overseas in nearly 20 years. That robust activity, however, was tempered by a major jump in oil prices which nudged the country's trade deficit even higher. Oil imports skyrocketed 18 percent from the previous month to $39.3 billion.

Specifically, total March exports totaled $172.7 billion, while imports came in at $220.8 billion (an increase of $10.4 billion when compared to February's import numbers).

For the three months ending in March, exports of goods and services averaged $168.4 billion, while imports of goods and services averaged $215.3 billion, resulting in an average trade deficit of $46.9 billion. For the three months ending in February, the average trade deficit was $44.2 billion, reflecting average exports of $165.3 billion and average imports of $209.5 billion.

Also in March, advanced technology products exports totaled $25.3 billion and imports were $32.2 billion, resulting in a deficit of $6.9 billion.

Looking at the long view, the goods and services deficit increased $8.7 billion between March 2010 and March 2011. Exports were up $22.4 billion (14.9 percent) and imports were up $31.1 billion (16.4 percent).

Economists anticipate the quick rise in exports will boost growth in the April-June quarter despite high oil prices, according to Associated Press coverage of the news, as the government adjusts for inflation when calculating the nation's GDP.


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