Current account deficit increases in first quarter

By MARTIN CRUTSINGER | June 16, 2011 | 8:41 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Americans bought more expensive foreign oil in the first three months of the year, increasing the deficit in the broadest measure of foreign trade.

The Commerce Department says the deficit in the current account increased 6.3 percent to $119.3 billion in the January-to-March period, reflecting a big spike in global oil prices that sent petroleum imports surging. That increase offset strong sales by American companies of autos, computers and heavy machinery in foreign markets.

The current account is the broadest measure of foreign trade because it includes not only trade in goods and services but also investment flows between countries.

It represents the bottom line in how much the United States must borrow from the rest of the world to finance its deficit.