published Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

Business Briefs: U.S. lowers deficit estimate

U.S. lowers deficit estimate

The budget deficit for the current year is projected to come in well below what was estimated just a few months ago, a development that could further curb the already slowing momentum for a budget pact this year.

The Congressional Budget Office study released Tuesday cites higher tax revenues and better-than-expected payments from government-controlled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as the key reasons for this year's improved outlook. The budget office now predicts a 2013 budget deficit of $642 billion, more than $200 billion below its February estimate. This year's shortfall would register at 4 percent of the economy, far less than the 10.1 percent experienced in 2009 when the government ran a record $1.4 trillion deficit.

Import prices drop 0.5 percent

Prices paid by U.S. importers fell in April for the second straight month, pushed lower by another decline in imported petroleum. Falling import prices help keep inflation in check.

The Labor Department says import prices fell 0.5 percent last month compared with March, when prices had fallen 0.2 percent. It was the largest decline since a 0.6 percent drop in December. Imported petroleum products fell 1.9 percent in April. Excluding petroleum, import costs fell only 0.1 percent. Import prices have fallen 2.6 percent over the 12 months ending in April. The prices charged by U.S. exporters fell 0.7 percent in April compared with March. The decline was propelled by a 2.2 percent drop in U.S. farm exports. In the past year, export prices have fallen 0.9 percent.

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