08/05/2015 08:33 EDT | Updated 08/05/2016 01:12 EDT

US trade gap widens 7 per cent in June as stronger dollar holds back exports, boosts imports

WASHINGTON — The U.S. trade deficit increased in June as solid consumer spending pulled in more imports, while the strong dollar restrained exports.

The Commerce Department says the trade gap jumped 7 per cent to $43.8 billion in June, up from $40.9 billion in May. Imports increased 1.2 per cent to $232.4 billion, while exports edged lower to $188.6 billion from $188.7 billion.

U.S. manufacturers have been held back this year by the strong dollar, which makes their products more expensive overseas.

Exports of large capital equipment, including telecommunications gear and industrial machinery, fell 1.7 per cent in June. Imports of food, auto parts, and consumer goods such as pharmaceuticals and cellphones surged as Americans spent more.

Even so, the deficit narrowed in the second quarter compared with the first, boosting the economy.

Christopher S. Rugaber, The Associated Press