April 24, 2017

Consumer Spending Rose Slightly in August

Consumers’ spending on goods and services rose 0.3 percent in August, the Commerce Department said on Friday. That was up from a 0.2 percent gain in July.

Income rose 0.4 percent in August, the best gain since February and up from a 0.2 percent July increase. Private wages and salaries rose 0.5 percent, while government wages and salaries rose 0.2 percent.

The government figures would have been higher if not for forced federal furloughs that reduced wages and salaries by $7.3 billion.

Consumer spending drives 70 percent of economic activity. Many analysts say the increases are not enough to accelerate economic growth in the third quarter from the 2.5 percent annual rate in the April-June quarter.

“With more money coming in, consumers spent a little, just a little, more freely,” said Jennifer Lee, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.

Americans grew more pessimistic this month about the economy, their own finances and government budget policies, according to a survey of consumer confidence released Friday.

The University of Michigan says its final reading of consumer sentiment dropped to 77.5 in September from 82.1 in August. It was the second straight decline after confidence reached a six-year high of 85.1 in July.

Paul Ashworth, chief United States economist at Capital Economics, said the economy has been growing at an annual rate of 2 to 2.5 percent in the July-September quarter. Still, the pickup in August spending could signal stronger growth in the final three months of the year.

But other economists were less hopeful. Peter Newland, an economist at Barclays, said that the modest increase did not change the bank’s forecast for growth, at a 1.7 percent rate.

There are some signs that consumers may be better positioned to step up spending soon.

The number of people seeking unemployment benefits has sunk to its lowest point in six years because few companies are laying anyone off anymore. That has led some economists to predict that employers added 200,000 jobs or more jobs in September, the most since February.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/28/business/economy/consumer-spending-rose-slightly-in-august.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Second-Quarter G.D.P. Revised Sharply Higher

Other economic data on Thursday showed the number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits fell last week, a potential sign of faster hiring in August.

U.S. gross domestic product grew at a 2.5 percent annual rate in the April-June period, according to revised estimates released by the Commerce Department. That was more than double the pace clocked in the prior three months.

The reports could boost confidence that the economy is turning a corner, shaking off the government austerity enacted earlier in the year when Washington hiked tax rates and slashed the federal budget.

“We are likely now moving past the peak of fiscal drag and, as we do, improving underlying private demand should support a pickup in GDP growth,” said Ted Wieseman, an economist at Morgan Stanley in New York.

The government had initially estimated that GDP expanded at a 1.7 percent rate in the second quarter. But recent data showed that exports climbed during the period at their fastest pace in more than two years.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the economy growing at a 2.2 percent pace.

Many economists expect the economy will accelerate further in the second half of the year as austerity measures begin to weigh less on national output.

That drag was evident in the second quarter, when spending contracted at all levels of government. Indeed, Thursday’s data showed the economic drag from spending cuts was greater in the second quarter than initially estimated.

Still, the data could make officials at the U.S. central bank more confident in their plan to begin reducing monthly bond purchases later this year.

“The upward revision today does help cement the decision to start tapering,” said Stuart Hoffman, an economist at PNC Financial in Pittsburgh.

Stock prices rose, as did yields on U.S. government debt, while the dollar strengthened against the euro.

The Fed’s program has reduced borrowing costs and helped spark a recovery in the nation’s housing market, which collapsed during the 2007-09 recession.

In the second quarter, investments in housing accounted for nearly a fifth of the economy’s growth during the period.

However, other reports have suggested that housing began to look more shaky toward the end of the quarter. Expectations that the Fed could trim its $85 billion in monthly bond purchases as early as September have driven mortgage rates sharply higher since May.

The bond-buying program is one of the United States’ last major economic stimulus programs, as government spending began to drag on GDP in late 2010.

In the second quarter, higher taxes appeared to hold consumers back. Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, slowed to a 1.8 percent growth pace after rising at a 2.3 percent rate in the first quarter.

Corporate profits, however, unexpectedly climbed in the second quarter, posting their fastest after-tax gain since late 2011.

The report leaves the annual economic growth rate averaging 1.8 percent in the first half of the year, making it more plausible that GDP could expand this year as much as the Fed forecasts. Its forecasts in June were for economic growth of at least 2.3 percent in 2013.

Still, some of the strength in the second quarter could dull growth in the third quarter. Part of the upward revision was due to retailers restocking their shelves at a faster pace than originally estimated, so they may face less of a need to build inventories between July and September.

“Inventories might be more of a headwind to (third-quarter) growth than we had been anticipating,” said Daniel Silver, an economist at JPMorgan in New York.

A separate report from the Labor Department showed the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits slipped 6,000 last week to 331,000.

Claims have not strayed too far from the 330,000 level since mid-July, bolstering expectations of an acceleration in the pace of employment gains in August.

(Reporting by Jason Lange; Additional reporting by Lucia Mutikani in Washington and Richard Leong in New York; Editing by Paul Simao)

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2013/08/29/business/29reuters-economy-gdp.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

New Home Sales Fall Sharply; House Prices Rise

Sales dropped 13.4 percent to an annual rate of 394,000 units, the Commerce Department said on Friday.

The reading, which was well below economists’ expectations, could be a sign that a recent surge in mortgage rates is weighing on the economy, although the data is often subject to large revisions.

The report could weaken the case for the U.S. Federal Reserve to reduce its support for the economy by trimming monthly bond purchases later this year.

“The higher mortgage rates are having an impact on the housing market,” said Scott Brown, chief economist with Raymond James in St. Petersburg, Florida. “That makes tapering (bond purchases) somewhat less likely.”

The government revised sharply lower its estimate for new home sales in May and June.

Yields on U.S. government debt dropped sharply and the dollar weakened following the release of the data, a sign that some investors were scaling back bets that the Fed would trim its $85 billion in monthly bond purchases next month.

Mortgage rates have risen sharply since May on bets that the Fed would soon begin tapering its bond purchases. The stimulus program is designed to lower interest rates to make it easier for businesses to expand and take on new workers.

The housing market, which has been a major drag on the U.S. economy since the 2007-09 recession, appeared to turn a corner early last year when home prices began to rise.

Last month, the median price for a new home sale rose to $257,200, up from $237,400 in the same month of 2012.

There have been indications that higher borrowing costs are having only a limited impact on the overall housing market.

Sales of existing homes, a much larger category than new homes, surged to a three-year high last month. Some analysts speculated, however, that home buyers rushed into the market to lock in mortgage rates before they rose further.

Construction of new homes has accelerated over the last year, and the inventory of new homes for sale increased by 4.3 percent in July from June.

Rising inventories could slow the rapid and arguably unsustainable price gains seen over the past year. If that occurred in step with a moderate rise in interest rates, the overall housing market could become healthier in the long term.

“(In) the end it will make it the housing recovery a more durable one,” said Lindsey Piegza, chief economist with Sterne Agee Leach in Chicago.

At July’s sales pace it would take 5.2 months to clear the houses on the market, up from 4.3 months in June. A supply of six months is normally considered a healthy balance between supply and demand.

(Reporting by Jason Lange; Additional reporting by Richard Leong in New York; Editing by Paul Simao)

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2013/08/23/business/23reuters-usa-economy.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

New Tools Pinpoint Natural Gas Leaks, Maximizing a Fuel’s Green Qualities

Pacific Gas Electric, which operates in northern and central California, has begun training employees to use the technology, a portable gas detector that was recently used in a car driven 785 miles through the streets of Boston.

Natural gas escapes into the atmosphere from two basic sources: natural ones, like swamps and marshes, and human activity, like leaking gas wells and pipelines. The boom in natural gas production, including hydraulic fracturing, has raised concerns about a subsequent boom in leaks, although how much gas escapes remains a mystery. The Environmental Protection Agency has been working on the question for years and “is still operating with guesses,” said John C. Bosch, who specialized in that issue before he retired from that agency four years ago.

But whether from man-made or natural causes, methane — the main component in natural gas — is a major contributor to global warming when released in the atmosphere. According to the E.P.A., over a 100-year period, a pound of methane is 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in warming the climate. It can also be dangerous: In 2010, one of Pacific Gas Electric’s pipelines leaked in San Bruno, south of San Francisco, and the ensuing explosion killed eight people.

“Leaking methane is becoming increasingly relevant from a greenhouse gas standpoint,” said Joseph T. Hodges, a scientist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, part of the Commerce Department, who helped develop the laser technology used in the new portable gas detector.

The detector, built by Picarro, a manufacturer of scientific instruments that has recently moved into the field of portable methane detection, is able to determine whether the gas originated from wells or was produced by the bacteria in swamps, landfills and sewers. Distinguishing between the two can prevent industrial polluters from plausibly denying that they have leaks.

The system was demonstrated in 2011, when researchers bolted it in the trunk of a car that drove through the streets of Boston, a city with a labyrinth of aging underground gas pipelines. In a peer-reviewed scientific journal last year, the researchers said they had found 3,356 leaks of methane, and some with concentrations 15 times normal methane levels in the atmosphere.

Robert B. Jackson, a professor of global environmental change at Duke and an author of the paper, said Picarro was “pushing the envelope on portability.”

The Picarro detector works like this: An inlet tube takes in air samples, which are sent to a chamber in the trunk of the car. The chamber, about the size of a drum major’s baton with mirrors at either end, bounces a laser back and forth between the two mirrors thousands of times, like a fold-up yardstick. The laser’s path is ultimately several miles long and so is able to precisely measure concentrations of methane in the range of parts per billion.

An anemometer, an instrument for measuring wind speed and direction, is mounted on top of the car, as is a GPS device. In some models, an inlet pipe samples air from various elevations. The system uses an onboard computer to turn the readings into a three-dimensional model of a gas plume — a funnel-shaped flow of contamination — and calculates the location and size of the origin. Methane molecules incorporate a carbon atom of two different types, one more commonly found in gas from wells and the other in gas from landfills and sewers. Studying the ratio, the instrument can say where the gas came from.

Michael R. Woelk, president and chief executive of Picarro, said the advantage of the detector was that it could be used on public roads to locate leaks on private property.

Pacific Gas Electric has bought six Picarro systems.

“I see it as a game-changer,” said Nick Stavropoulos, the utility’s executive vice president for gas operations. “It’s amazing how much more effective it is in finding gas leaks on our system than traditional technology.” Previously when gas was detected, he said, the utility had to stay on the site until it was determined by a distant laboratory whether the gas was from its pipes or a landfill. Now that determination can be made almost immediately.

Other companies use different techniques for gas detection. Physical Sciences of Andover, Mass., has an instrument like a lantern that projects a laser beam and measures what bounces back. About 2,000 are in use worldwide, according to Michael B. Frish, a manager there.

LI-COR Bio-Sciences, of Lincoln, Neb., makes an “open path” model in which air flows naturally through a chamber. The company has deployed instruments at several landfills to measure their emissions, said Dayle K. McDermitt, vice president for research and development for environmental products. Measurement technology is advancing, he said, but modeling plumes is “still a work in progress.”

The Environmental Protection Agency, which has a history of requiring new controls as technology improves, intermittently hints that it might regulate methane emissions. It already counts on the presence of large amounts of methane to help spot smaller quantities of toxic gases that are currently regulated. Remote detection is outside the norm for the agency, said Eben D. Thoma, an E.P.A. researcher. More often the agency requires measurements at known sources, like tailpipes and smokestacks. Measuring plumes is easiest in wide-open spaces, and harder in “urban canyons” and wooded areas, where the plume is distorted, he said.

Mr. Bosch, the retired E.P.A. official, who now consults for Picarro, said that the agency had had more success in reducing emissions from smokestacks and vent pipes than from “fugitive” sources like leaky pipes and valves.

But Mr. Woelk, of Picarro, said his technology could locate leaks and prioritize them, and that the majority of the gas was generally escaping from a small fraction of the sources.

“Natural gas is the new green energy, supposedly,” he said, but finding and fixing the leaks would make it greener.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/07/business/energy-environment/new-tools-pinpoint-natural-gas-leaks-maximizing-a-fuels-green-qualities.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Trade Gap Falls, Hinting At Pickup in U.S. Growth

The Commerce Department said on Tuesday that the United States trade gap fell more than 22 percent, to $34.2 billion, in June from May. That is lowest level since October 2009.

American companies shipped more aircraft engines, telecommunications equipment, heavy machinery and farm goods. As a result, exports rose 2.2 percent to a record high of $191.2 billion.

Imports declined 2.2 percent to $225.4 billion, in part because oil imports fell to the lowest level in more than two years.

Economists said the steep drop in the trade deficit would most likely lead the government to revise its economic growth estimate for the April-June quarter.

“We could see a sizable upward revision,” said Jennifer Lee, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets.

Last week the government said the economy grew at a lackluster 1.7 percent annual rate in the second quarter, in part because trade cut nearly a full percentage point from growth.

But after seeing the June trade figures — which were not factored into last month’s growth estimate — some economists said growth could be closer to a 2.5 percent annual rate. The government reports its second estimate of growth for the April-June quarter on Aug. 29.

A smaller trade deficit lifts economic growth because it means consumers and businesses are spending less on foreign goods than companies are taking in from overseas sales.

Many economists say they think overall growth has started to rebound in the July-September quarter. Some say growth could come close to a 3 percent annual rate. A crucial reason is that several export markets, including Europe, are seeing improvement.

For June, United States exports to the 27-nation European Union rose 1.5 percent. That helped shrink the deficit with the region to $7.1 billion.

The deficit with China fell 4.3 percent, to $26.6 billion, while America’s deficit with Japan rose 2.2 percent, to $5.5 billion in June.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/07/business/economy/trade-gap-falls-suggesting-faster-us-economic-growth.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

U.S. Trade Gap Hits Low on Weak Petroleum Imports

The Commerce Department said on Tuesday the trade gap fell 22.4 percent to $34.2 billion, the smallest since October 2009. The percentage decline was the largest since February 2009. The shortfall on the trade balance was $44.1 billion in May.

When adjusted for inflation, the gap narrowed 17 percent to $43.2 billion, the smallest since January 2010. The deficit in June was far smaller than the government had estimated in its advance gross domestic product report last week.

Economists, who had expected the trade gap to narrow only to $43.5 billion in June, said second-quarter GDP growth could be revised up to as high as an annual pace of 2.5 percent from the 1.7 percent rate initially estimated by the government.

“Today’s surprise implies a significant upward revision to second-quarter GDP,” said Laura Rosner, an economist at BNP Paribas in New York. “Our calculations suggest an implied revision of roughly plus 0.8 percentage point and our tracking estimate of second-quarter GDP growth is now 2.5 percent.”

Economists had on Friday raised their growth estimates for the April-June period by a tenth of percentage point after data on factory orders showed a slightly higher pace of inventory accumulation in June than the government had assumed in its advance GDP growth estimate.

If economists’ assumptions are correct, the faster pace of economic growth could bring the Federal Reserve closer to scaling back its massive monetary stimulus program.

Economists expect an announcement on the future of the Fed’s monthly bond purchases in September.

Trade subtracted 0.8 percentage point from second-quarter GDP growth, according to the first government estimate.

The three-month moving average of the trade deficit, which irons out month-to-month volatility, fell to $39.5 billion in the three months to June from $40.5 billion in the prior period.

The dollar briefly trimmed losses against the euro and the yen on the trade report. Stocks on Wall Street were lower in thin volume as investors focused on corporate earnings, while Treasury debt prices were flat.

DRAGS ON GROWTH EASING

Belt-tightening in Washington and weaker global demand weighed on the U.S. economy in the first half of the year, but analysts expect activity to regain momentum for the rest of 2013 as the fiscal policy burden eases and growth in Europe picks up.

The trade report offered a fairly decent hand-off to third-quarter U.S. growth and suggested the drag on exports from sluggish overseas growth was starting to lift, which was recently highlighted in manufacturing surveys, economists said.

Exports of goods and services increased 2.2 percent to a record $191.2 billion. The gain in exports was broad-based, with food, industrial supplies, capital goods and consumer goods rising. Motor vehicle exports, however, fell in June.

Strong export growth helped to lift the economy out of the 2007-09 recession and signs of a pickup after faltering in recent months should buoy expectations of an acceleration in GDP growth in the last six months of this year.

“There are signs in this report of an easing of the weakness in activity abroad, which we think has been a headwind for U.S. manufacturing,” said John Ryding, chief economist at RDQ Economics in New York.

“Though still below year-ago levels, exports to the EU are falling at a slower rate than earlier this year and exports to both Pacific Rim countries and South America picked up in June.”

U.S. exports to the 27-nation European Union rose 1.5 percent in June. Exports to the EU in the first half of the year were down 5.5 percent compared to the same period in 2012.

Exports to China increased 4.5 percent in June. They were up 4.2 percent for the first six months of 2013. There was a jump in exports to Brazil and the United Kingdom.

In June, imports of goods and services fell 2.5 percent to $225.4 billion. The drop was almost across the board.

It reflected hefty declines in petroleum imports and industrial supplies and materials, which tumbled to levels last seen in November 2010.

The drop in petroleum imports shows the U.S. is making strides in reducing its dependence on foreign oil, a trend that economists said could help to curb the nation’s trade deficit.

Some, however, were skeptical the trade deficit would remain lower and expected a bounce back in July.

“This level of improvement is unlikely to be sustained, and we expect the weak global economic backdrop and rising energy prices to result in a modest widening in the deficit in the coming months,” said Millan Mulraine, senior economist at TD Securities in New York.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani,; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2013/08/06/business/06reuters-trade-gap.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Business Spending Lifts Orders for Durable Factory Goods

The Commerce Department said on Thursday that orders for durable goods increased 4.2 percent last month. That followed a 5.2 percent gain in May, which was revised higher.

Most of the gain occurred because aircraft orders, which are volatile month to month, jumped 31.4 percent. Boeing said it received orders for 287 planes in June, up from 232 in May. Excluding autos and airplanes, orders were unchanged.

Orders that signal planned business investment, which exclude volatile transportation and military orders, increased in June for the fourth straight month. The 0.7 percent gain last month was buoyed by more machinery demand. And orders in May were much stronger than previously reported.

Even with the gain, business investment is not likely to help economic growth in the April-June quarter, economists said. That is because the government measures shipments, rather than orders, when calculating business investments’ contribution to growth. Shipments fell in June. But the increase in orders this spring suggests shipments will rise in the July-September quarter and add to growth.

Jonathan Basile, an economist at Credit Suisse, said rising orders were a “recipe for a speedup in manufacturing and business investment” in the third quarter.

Durable goods are items meant to last at least three years, like computers, industrial machinery and appliances.

In other economic news on Thursday, government data showed that more people filed new claims for unemployment insurance benefits last week.

Initial jobless claims rose to 343,000 in the week ended July 20, an increase of 7,000 from the previous week’s revised 336,000 claims, the Labor Department reported.

Last week’s increase in claims, an indicator of the pace of layoffs, was larger than the 340,000 reading expected on average by analysts.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/26/business/economy/business-spending-lifts-orders-for-durable-factory-goods.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

New-Home Sales and Factory Activity Rise

Showing no signs of slowing in the face of higher mortgage rates, sales of single-family homes increased 8.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 497,000 units, the highest level since May 2008, the Commerce Department said.

Economists, who had expected sales to advance only to a 482,000-unit rate, said buyers sitting on the fence had probably rushed into the market to lock in mortgage rates in anticipation of even higher rates.

“The recent increase in mortgage rates hasn’t slowed demand as long as home affordability remains high,” said Bob Walters, chief economist at Quicken Loans in Detroit. “We are, however, seeing an increased urgency from potential new home buyers as they move to secure today’s historically low rates.”

Though the government revised down sales from March through May by a total 38,000 units, the overall tone of the report was bullish. Compared with June 2012, sales of single-family homes were up 38.1 percent, the largest increase since January 1992.

Some worried that higher borrowing costs could crimp the housing market recovery after a report on Monday showed a surprise drop in home resales in June.

Mortgage rates have been rising in anticipation of the Federal Reserve’s starting to reduce its huge monetary stimulus this year. According to Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate increased 0.53 of a percentage point in June to 4.07 percent, its highest level since October 2011.

Still, mortgage rates, which edged lower last week, remain low by historical standards, and economists, including the Fed chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, contend the fundamentals in the housing market are strong enough to withstand the increase in borrowing costs.

The strengthening housing market is lending support to manufacturing, which has been hit by deep federal spending cuts and slowing global demand.

A rebound in new orders helped to lift factory activity to a four-month high in July. Markit’s preliminary Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index rose to 53.2 this month from 51.9 in June. A reading above 50 indicates expansion in the factory sector.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/25/business/economy/new-home-sales-and-factory-activity-rise.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Shrinking Stockpiles Hint at Future Economic Growth

WASHINGTON — Wholesalers cut back on restocking in May even as sales rose, indicating that economic growth could pick up later this year as they rebuild their stockpiles.

The Commerce Department said on Wednesday that wholesale stockpiles shrank 0.5 percent in May, the most in 20 months. That followed a 0.1 percent decline in April, which was revised lower.

Sales at the wholesale level increased 1.6 percent in May and 0.7 percent in April.

A reduction in stockpiles may prompt economists to cut their growth forecasts for the April-June quarter. But the steady gain in sales suggests companies may have to order more goods in the coming months to keep up with demand. That could bolster factory production and drive more economic growth in the second half of the year.

Auto sales jumped 3 percent in May, yet stockpiles were unchanged. And sales of durable goods, items meant to last at least three years, rose 0.3 percent, while inventories of those goods fell by the same amount.

Sales of nondurable goods rose 2.8 percent, the most in more than two years. The gain was caused by large increases in sales of clothing, groceries and pharmaceuticals. Stockpiles of those goods declined 0.8 percent.

Stockpiles of farm goods fell sharply for the second straight month, dropping 6 percent. That most likely reflected the impact of a severe drought last year, which has resulted in lower stockpiles this spring.

Overall wholesale stockpiles totaled $500.9 billion in May, 3.3 percent higher than a year ago.

Much of the recent data suggest the second half of the year could be stronger, helped by steady job growth, a resilient consumer and a sustained recovery in housing.

Employers have added 202,000 jobs a month through the first six months of the year. That is up from 180,000 in the previous six months.

More Americans are earning paychecks, which increases overall income and supports more spending.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/11/business/economy/shrinking-stockpiles-hint-at-future-economic-growth.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Trade Deficit Widens as Demand for Imports Grows

The Commerce Department said on Tuesday that the trade gap rose 8.5 percent in April from March, to $40.3 billion.

Exports increased 1.2 percent to $187.4 billion, the second-highest level on record. Companies sold more telecommunications equipment, industrial machinery and airplane parts, while vehicles made in the United States and auto parts also rose to a high of $12.8 billion.

But imports grew an even faster 2.4 percent, to $227.7 billion. Sales of foreign cars increased to $25.5 billion. Americans also bought more consumer goods, led by a big gain in foreign-made cellphones.

A wider trade gap can restrain growth because it means American consumers and businesses are spending more on foreign goods than United States companies are gaining in overseas sales.

But Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors, said the wider deficit did show growth in the United States remains stronger than in most other nations. And that growth has helped propel more spending by consumers on imported goods.

“The U.S. economy may not be robust, but with growth continuing, the demand for foreign goods is picking up,” Mr. Naroff said.

Most economists said trade would most likely be neutral in the April-to-June quarter after subtracting slightly from growth in the January-to-March quarter. They expect economic growth has slowed to an annual rate of about 2 percent, down from a 2.4 percent rate in the first quarter.

Still, a weaker global economy is reducing demand for American exports, and that could weigh on growth this year.

Europe’s recession continues to be a problem for American companies. The deficit with the European Union grew 25.6 percent, to $12.4 billion. American exports to the region declined 7.9 percent, while imports from the region rose slightly.

The politically delicate deficit with China surged to $24.1 billion, the highest level since January and the largest with any single nation. Imports jumped 21 percent, while exports fell 4.7 percent. The March deficit had been artificially lowered by shipping disruptions caused by the Chinese New Year holiday.

The weakness abroad has coincided with less investment by American businesses, possibly out of concern that government spending cuts could hobble economic growth.

The deficit so far this year is running at an annual rate of $491.9 billion, down 8 percent from the revised annual deficit of $534.7 billion for 2012.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/05/business/economy/trade-deficit-widens-as-demand-for-imports-grows.html?partner=rss&emc=rss