The U.S. April trade balance was an oil and China story. Rising prices and low inventories forced up energy imports, but there is also underlying demand for consumer products, and the combination left the April trade balance at a huge $60.9 billion deficit, an erosion that more than wiped out March’s modest improvement.

Imports surged $9.4 billion as oil and related products jumped $5.4 billion, autos advanced $1 billion as a parts strike ended, and consumer goods gained $1.25 billion.

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