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By Ricardo Lopez, Los Angeles Times

The U.S. trade gap widened to its highest level in two years as Americans purchased more imported goods and exports slowed, the U.S. Commerce Department reported Wednesday.

The country’s trade deficit grew to $47.2 billion in April, up from $44.2 billion in March, the federal agency said. Exports slowed in April, down slightly to $193.4 billion. Imports, meanwhile, surged by nearly $3 billion to $237.8 billion, suggesting consumers were spending more.

Though consumer spending is growing, the slowdown in exports could cause the country’s total economic output to slow, analysts said. The increased spending on imported goods means foreign firms are getting a larger share of American dollars.

“Trade looks likely to be a small drag on (second-quarter) GDP,” wrote Ian Shepherdsen, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, in a note to clients.

The uptick in imports was mainly driven by increased spending in consumer goods and cars, the Commerce Department said. Combined, these segments grew by $2 billion from March to April.

Photo: Wallyg via Flickr

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