US trade deficit 5-month high as imports soar

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WASHINGTON
The US trade deficit jumped to a five-month high in May as imports of goods increased, likely as businesses restocked ahead of an increase in tariffs on Chinese merchandise, eclipsing a broad rise in exports. The Commerce Department said on Wednesday the trade deficit surged 8.4% to $55.5 billion (44.16 billion pounds). Data for April was revised higher to show the trade gap widening to $51.2 billion instead of the previously reported $50.8 billion. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the trade gap widening to $54.0 billion in May.
The goods trade deficit with China, a focus of President Donald Trump’s “America First” agenda, increased 12.2% to $30.2 billion, with imports rising 12.8%. Trump recently raised additional import tariffs on Chinese goods, prompting Beijing to retaliate. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping last week agreed to a trade truce and a return to talks. White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said on Tuesday talks were heading in the right direction, but it would take time to get the right deal made.
The U.S.-China trade tensions have caused wild swings in the trade deficit, with exporters and importers trying to stay ahead of the tariff fight between the two economic giants. In May, goods imports increased 4.0% to $217.0 billion. Imports of consumer goods rose $1.4 billion, while those of motor vehicle and parts soared $2.3 billion to a record high. There were also big increases in imports of capital goods and industrial supplies and materials.

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