US trade gap widens at fastest pace in 10 months

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. trade deficit rose in March at the fastest rate in 10 months. A rise in consumer goods lifted imports to a record level, outpacing a solid gain in U.S. exports.

The Commerce Department says the trade deficit widened to $51.8 billion in March, up from $45.4 billion in February. Imports rose 5.2 percent to a record $238.6 billion, reflecting more foreign oil, autos, cell phones and clothes.

Exports increased 2.9 percent to $186.8 billion. Sales to Europe reached an all-time high despite the region's debt crisis.

Economists caution that export growth, a bright spot for the U.S. economy, could slow in coming months if more European countries fall into recession.


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