News / Economy

US Trade Deficit Narrows as Exports Hit Record High

FILE - Trucks drive past piles of shipping containers at the Qingdao port in Qingdao, Shandong province, June 8, 2014.
FILE - Trucks drive past piles of shipping containers at the Qingdao port in Qingdao, Shandong province, June 8, 2014.
VOA News

The U.S. trade deficit narrowed a bit more than expected in May as exports jumped to a record high, and the U.S. unemployment rate dropped to its lowest level in nearly six years.

The Commerce Department said on Thursday the trade gap fell 5.6 percent to $44.4 billion, indicating the U.S. economy is benefiting from a strengthening global recovery, data released Thursday showed.

April's trade deficit was revised slightly down to $47.0 billion.

The narrowing of the trade deficit in May followed five straight months of increases.

"The improvement in U.S. exports seen in the May trade data suggests that the world economic recovery is gaining traction," said Tu Packard of Moody's Analytics, as reported by the French news agency AFP.

Exceeded expectations

Economists polled by Reuters had expected the trade deficit to narrow to $45 billion in May from a previously reported $47.2 billion shortfall, suggesting trade could be less of a drag on second-quarter growth than earlier feared.

When adjusted for inflation, the deficit narrowed to $51.96 billion from $53.88 billion in April.

Trade subtracted 1.5 percentage points from first-quarter gross domestic product. The economy contracted at a 2.9 percent annual pace in the first three months of the year.

In May, exports increased 1 percent to a record high of $195.5 billion. Exports were driven by a surge in automobiles, parts and engines, which rose to a record high. Exports of consumer goods were also the highest on record.

Imports fell 0.3 percent to $239.8 billion as petroleum imports tumbled to their lowest level since November 2010. Non-petroleum imports, however, hit a record high in May.

That points to an acceleration in domestic demand, which cannot be satisfied with locally produced goods, and is consistent with expectations of a rebound in growth in the second quarter.

The politically sensitive trade gap with China rose to $28.8 billion from $27.3 billion in April. 

U.S. Unemployment Rate, June 2014U.S. Unemployment Rate, June 2014
x
U.S. Unemployment Rate, June 2014
U.S. Unemployment Rate, June 2014

Jobless rate

Thursday's report from the Labor Department shows the unemployment rate falling two-tenths of a percentage point to hit 6.1 percent in June.

The study also shows a net gain of 288,000 jobs. The job growth and the unemployment rate are both better than economists had predicted.

An economic advisor to President Obama said it is the first time since 2000 the economy gained 200,000 jobs per month for five straight months.  But Jason Furman also said many families are still struggling with long-term unemployment and stagnant wages. 

Government experts said job growth was widespread, and strongest in professional services, retail, food services and health care.

The data could be seen as evidence that the world's largest economy is recovering from the effects of unusually harsh winter weather that hurt the economy in the first few months of this year.

The upbeat data encouraged investors, who pushed the Dow Jones Industrial Average above 17,000 for the first time.

During the past year, the number of people officially counted as unemployed is down by 2.3 million, but that still leaves 9.5 million people out of work.

Other job data was mixed. The number of Americans working part time because they cannot find full-time work rose, while the number of people out of work longer than 27 weeks declined.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AFP.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9009
JPY
USD
123.09
GBP
USD
0.6387
CAD
USD
1.2524
INR
USD
63.605

Rates may not be current.