Exports increased 1.2% to $187.4 billion, the second-highest level on record, boosted by a $586 million gain in sales of autos and parts and a $1.96 billion advance in consumer goods, including jewelry and diamonds.
Because so much of the gain in exports was concentrated in jewelry and gems, a category not usually associated with U.S production, the increase was of “low quality” and will probably be reversed in coming months, Ted Wieseman, an economist at Morgan Stanley in New York, said in a research note.
The trade deficit adjusted for inflation, which is the figure used to calculate gross domestic product, widened to $47.6 billion from $44.6 billion in March. The April reading was little changed from the $47.8 billion first-quarter average, indicating trade so far is not having much influence on growth this quarter.
The trade gap with China, the world’s second-biggest economy, jumped 34.8% to $24.1 billion from $17.9 billion, today’s report showed. The figures are not adjusted for seasonal variations and can become volatile around holidays.
Honeywell International Inc., a Morris Township, New Jersey-based maker of cockpit controls and thermostats, is among companies seeing a slowdown in China this quarter.
“In the short term, there’s no doubt demand has decreased” in China, Chief Executive Officer David Cote said during a conference on May 29. “There are going to be some ups and downs but I do believe they’re working their way through that.”
The U.S. economy expanded at a 2.4% annualized rate in the first three months of 2013. The trade gap widened to $391.5 billion, subtracting 0.21 percentage point from growth as imports climbed more than exports.