USA trade deficit edges lower in March

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WASHINGTON-The U.S. trade gap widened in the first quarter compared to a year earlier as exports and imports rose, suggesting underlying strength in the global economy.

The U.S. deficit with Korea - a much-watched figure in light of recent administration criticism of the U.S. -Korea Free Trade Agreement - increased by $600 million, the agencies said in a report.

The trade deficit in goods with China rose 7 percent to $24.6 billion in March from $23 billion in February on rising imports of Chinese cellphones and telecommunications equipment. Imports fell 0.7 percent to $234.7 billion on capital goods and industrial supplies.

Total exports excluding energy products increased 1.9 percent.

Monthly oil imports rose to their highest level in almost four years at 260 million barrels.

On a regional basis, Canada's trade surplus with the United States slipped to $4 billion in March compared with $4.5 billion in February.

Rain reigns in forecast through the weekend
A cold front heads to the coast by Saturday afternoon and pushes more clouds and rain showers into the valleys by Saturday night . A high of 63 and a low of 42 was forecast for Saturday with windy conditions and a chance of showers in the morning.

Other reports suggest USA firms are benefiting from stronger economic growth around the globe, including in Europe and Asia. Exports and imports both grew by 7.1%.

However, automobile imports increased by $1.0bn.

Trade figures also carry political implications as President Donald Trump seeks to revamp USA trade deals with other countries.

Imports from countries other than the United States also increased, up 1.2 percent, on higher purchases of crude oil from Saudi Arabia, and goods from Britain.

Exports of goods decreased just over $2.0 billion to $126.3 billion in March, driven by a $0.6 billion decline in oil and $0.6 billion reduction in petroleum products.

Imports from Mexico hit $28.1 billion, their highest on record, pushing the deficit with the southern neighbor to its highest level in almost 10 years.