WASHINGTON — The U.S. trade deficit unexpectedly surged to $49.9 billion in June, the highest level since October 2008, as exports declined and imports increased, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.
The June deficit widened by a record $7.9 billion, or 18.8%, as it posted a third straight monthly increase, up from a $1.7 billion expansion in May.
The June swing was large enough to prompt a downward revision in the 2.4% preliminary estimate for economic growth in the second quarter. The figure represents an annual growth rate.
Michael Moran, chief economist at Daiwa Capital Markets, said the June trade deficit reading will shave 0.4 to 0.5 of a percentage point from the rate of estimated expansion for gross domestic product.
“This adjustment adds to negative contributions suggested by other” economic reports, Moran said. “The combined influence of all figures could lead to a downward revision to GDP growth of approximately one percentage point, leaving growth in the low 1% area.”
Record amounts of consumer goods pushed June imports up $5.9 billion to a 20-month high of $200.3 billion.
Exports slipped by $2 billion to $150.5 billion as capital goods, industrial supplies and food products all declined. Exports in the automobile sector rose to a 20-month high.
Economists expected a $42 billion trade deficit in June, according to the median estimate from Thomson Reuters. May’s trade deficit was revised downward to $42 billion from $42.3 billion.