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

    Vietnam Urges US to Lift Lethal Weapons Ban Amid S. China Sea Tensions

    US president’s upcoming visit to Vietnam underscores strength of relationship, and lifting embargo would reflect that trust, ambassador says

    Are US Schools Turning a Blind Eye to Radical Qatari Preachers?

    Parade of radical Islamist clerics using mosque at Qatar’s Education City draws mounting criticism for American universities that maintain satellite branches there

    Why Islamic State Is Down But Not Out

    Despite loss of territory, group’s ferocious attacks over past three months seen as testimony to its continued durability and resourcefulness

    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.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    World Currencies

    EUR
    USD
    0.8700
    JPY
    USD
    106.56
    GBP
    USD
    0.6808
    CAD
    USD
    1.2518
    INR
    USD
    66.404

    Rates may not be current.