U.S. Trade Deficit Widened in May as Economic Rebound Fueled Demand for Imports

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WASHINGTON—The U.S. trade deficit widened in May, as American consumers and businesses stepped up purchases of imported products and materials amid a continued economic recovery.

The foreign-trade gap in goods and services expanded 3.1% from the prior month to a seasonally adjusted $71.2 billion in May, the Commerce Department said Friday.

Imports rose 1.3% to $277.3 billion, while exports increased 0.6% to $206 billion.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had predicted a trade deficit of $71.4 billion in May.

The gains in imports were fueled by purchases of industrial supplies such as crude oil, lumber, food and beverages as the U.S. economy opened up further from the pandemic-induced shutdown with the spread of vaccines.