Wall Street Journal (05/06/14) Ben Leubsdorf
The U.S. economy likely contracted in the first quarter for the first time in three years, private forecasters said after the nation’s trade gap narrowed less than expected in March. Both exports and imports rose in March, a sign of strengthening demand at home and abroad that should bolster the economy into the spring. But the U.S. Department of Commerce had assumed a larger decline in the trade deficit when it estimated last week that U.S. economic output barely expanded in the first three months of 2014. A revised reading of U.S. gross domestic product, expected at the end of May, could be downgraded from the current estimate that the economy expanded at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 0.1% in the first quarter.
A surge in exports helped boost the U.S. economy in the second half of 2013. But after narrowing to $35.17 billion in November, the trade gap began to widen in December. It reached $41.87 billion in February, its highest level since last September, before falling in March.