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Economic Report: U.S. trade deficit in goods hits record high as Americans snap up imports

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The numbers: The U.S. trade deficit in goods rose in March for the third month in a row and hit another record high, but the upsurge mostly stems from the American economy recovering faster than other countries.

The advanced trade gap in goods climbed 4% to $90.6 billion in March, the U.S. Census Bureau said Wednesday.

U.S. imports of goods jumped 6.8% to a record $232.6 billion in March.

U.S. exports increased 8.7% to $142.1 billion. Exports have recovered more slowly than imports because the economies of other countries haven’t recovered as rapidly as the U.S. The result has been softer demand for U.S. goods.

The government will release overall trade numbers for March next week, but the size of the trade deficit is generally tied to changes in exports and imports of goods. Trade patterns involving services rarely change much from month to month.

A higher deficit subtracts from gross domestic product, the official scorecard for the U.S. economy.

Trade is one of the few areas that has been a relative weak spot for the economy, but strong consumer and business spending have easily offset the drag. The government on Thursday is expected to report that GDP surged 6.5% in the first quarter.

An advanced look at wholesale inventories, meanwhile, showed a 1.4% increase in March. And an early look at retail inventories revealed a 1.4% decline.

Market reaction: In premarket trading, U.S. stocks were set to open mixed.

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