The nation’s foreign trade gap widened to $11.9 billion in April from $11 billion the previous month and continued to rise at a faster pace than last-year’s record-setting deficit, the Commerce Department said today.
Orders to U.S. factories fell 0.5% last month, the third straight decline and ninth in the last 12 months, the department also reported today. New orders fell $900 million in April to $190.8 billion, it said.
Orders had originally been reported down 0.9% in March, but that was revised to a 0.7% drop in today’s report. Orders were down 1.1% in February.
The trade deficit climbed to $44.6 billion for the first four months of 1985, up 5.8% from a year ago.
The imbalance, highest yet in 1985, was due in large part to a $1.6-billion surge in petroleum imports and continued declines in exports of manufactured goods and agricultural products, the Commerce Department said.
Largest Since Last July
The $11.9 billion April deficit, which also featured a rebound in Japanese auto imports, was the largest since last July’s $13.7 billion.
The rampaging trade deficit has been a major factor holding back growth in the industrial sector of the U.S. economy.
Many analysts say the trade deficit is cutting the gross national product to half of what it would otherwise be.
As usual, the single largest deficit was with Japan, which rose from $3.2 billion in March to $4 billion in April, the first month since Japan lifted voluntary restraints on auto shipments to the United States.
The other big individual deficits all were down slightly--Canada to $2.1 billion, Western Europe to $1.7 billion and Taiwan to $1.1 billion. While oil and Japanese car imports rose, clothing, general industrial machinery and iron and steel mill products all showed declines in April.