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WASHINGTON: The US trade deficit in goods jumped to a record high in March, suggesting trade was a drag on economic growth in the first quarter, but that was likely offset by robust domestic demand amid massive government aid.

Economic activity in the United States has rebounded more quickly compared to its global rivals. The pent-up demand is drawing in imports, eclipsing a recovery in exports and keeping the overall trade deficit elevated. The report from the Commerce Department on Wednesday also showed inventories at retailers were drawn down in March, underscoring the strong domestic demand.

“The widening in the goods deficit suggests that trade will be a drag on first-quarter GDP,” said Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics in West Chester, Pennsylvania. “This won’t be a big issue, as other parts of the economy are still doing well, such as business investment in equipment and consumer spending.”

The goods trade deficit surged 4.0% to $90.6 billion last month, the highest in the history of the series. Exports of goods accelerated 8.7% to $142.0 billion. They were boosted by shipments of motor vehicles, industrial supplies, consumer and capital goods, and food. The jump in exports was offset by a 6.8% advance in imports to $232.6 billion. Imports rose broadly. There were large gains in imports of motor vehicles, industrial supplies, consumer goods and food. Capital goods imports also rose solidly.

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