U.S. Goods-Trade Gap Widens to $71.4 Billion on Import Increase

(Bloomberg) -- America’s merchandise-trade deficit widened in March for the first time in three months as an increase in imports exceeded the rise in exports.

The goods-trade gap grew to $71.4 billion from $70.9 billion in February, according to Commerce Department figures released on Friday, below economist estimates for the deficit to widen to $73 billion.

Goods imports increased by $2 billion to $211.7 billion in March from the previous month, while exports climbed by $1.4 billion to $140.3 billion, according to Commerce.

The report -- delayed a week by the government shutdown earlier this year -- follows figures last Friday showing that an overall narrowing trade deficit during the first quarter gave a boost to economic growth, amounting to 1.03 percentage point of the 3.2 percent expansion pace during the period.

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