Washington Higher-priced petroleum imports helped to catapult the U.S. trade deficit to a record $136.1 billion in the first three months of 2003.
The country's current account deficit -- the broadest measure of trade -- swelled by 5.8 percent in the January-March period from the previous quarter's $128.6 billion deficit, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. The October-December deficit had set a single-quarter record.
The current account deficit is considered the best measurement of a country's international economic standing. It measures not just the goods and services reflected in the government's monthly trade reports, but also investment flows between countries and unilateral transfers, including U.S. foreign aid payments.
Even though a weaker dollar makes U.S. exports cheaper in foreign markets, a stagnant global economy was sapping demand for U.S.-made products, economists said.