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

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go 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.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9298
JPY
USD
120.21
GBP
USD
0.6773
CAD
USD
1.2675
INR
USD
62.497

Rates may not be current.