The current-account deficit, the broadest measure of international trade, reached $124.1 billion in the fourth quarter, the biggest such gap in three years, according to a Commerce Department report released on Wednesday.
The actual deficit grew 15 percent from the revised third-quarter shortfall, and the median forecast of economists in a Bloomberg News survey was a $115 billion. The increase is a sign of businesses’ growing reliance on foreign funding and imports to replace dated equipment.
“A widening of the balance just tells you about the relative growth rate of the U.S. compared with other economies,” said Jeremy Lawson, a senior U.S. economist at BNP Paribas. “There’s a fairly good chance that the deficit will widen again because imports are on track to outpace exports.”
In 2010, the deficit was at $470.9 billion and has since widened to $473.4 billion, 3.1 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.
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