U.S. President Barack Obama is promising he will do everything he can to speed up an economic recovery that, in his words, still has a long way to go.
Mr. Obama spoke Wednesday before signing legislation aimed at boosting the U.S. manufacturing industry, saying the U.S. needs to break a habit of buying more products from other countries than it sells.
His comments came the same day a series of economic reports - including one on the U.S. trade deficit - shook investor confidence and sent the major stock indexes tumbling between 2 and 3 percent lower.
Earlier Wednesday, the Commerce Department said the U.S. trade deficit grew by nearly one-fifth in June, the worst showing since late 2008.
The report said the gap between what Americans sell abroad and what they buy from foreigners expanded to almost $50 billion for the month.
The gap grew as U.S. exports declined more than one percent, while imports grew by about three percent.
The politically sensitive trade deficit with China also grew to more than $26 billion.
A separate report from the Labor Department said the number of job openings fell for the second consecutive month in June.
Even before the reports were released, investor confidence had been shaken by Tuesday's statement by the U.S. central bank that high unemployment and tight credit markets are slowing the economic recovery.
Also Wednesday, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters the U.S. economy is susceptible to slowdowns that start in other parts of the world.
Gibbs made the comment in response to a question about economic data from Beijing, showing that China's economic growth is slowing.
Earlier Wednesday, the Obama administration announced a total of $3 billion in aid for unemployed homeowners who are struggling to make payments on their home loans.
There have been lingering concerns about the U.S. housing market. Some economists blame problems in the housing market for helping to spark the financial crisis and the recession.
The White House says President Obama has been talking to his top economic advisors about ways to make sure the U.S. economic recovery continues to progress and create more jobs.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.