Current-Account Deficit Explodes to 3-Year Record

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The current-account deficit, the broadest measure of international trade, reached $124.1 billion in the fourth quarter, the biggest such gap in three years, according to a Commerce Department report released on Wednesday.

The actual deficit grew 15 percent from the revised third-quarter shortfall, and the median forecast of economists in a Bloomberg News survey was a $115 billion. The increase is a sign of businesses’ growing reliance on foreign funding and imports to replace dated equipment.

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“A widening of the balance just tells you about the relative growth rate of the U.S. compared with other economies,” said Jeremy Lawson, a senior U.S. economist at BNP Paribas. “There’s a fairly good chance that the deficit will widen again because imports are on track to outpace exports.”

In 2010, the deficit was at $470.9 billion and has since widened to $473.4 billion, 3.1 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

To contact the reporter on this story: Patricia Lee at staff.writers@wallstcheatsheet.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Damien Hoffman at editors@wallstcheatsheet.com

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