With imports increasing by slightly more than exports, a report released by the Commerce Department on Friday showed the U.S. trade deficit widened in the month of January.
The Commerce Department said the trade deficit widened to $68.2 billion in January from a revised $67.0 billion in December.
Economists had expected the trade deficit to widen to $67.5 billion from the $66.6 billion originally reported for the previous month.
The wider trade deficit came as the value of imports climbed by 1.2 percent to $260.2 billion, while the value of exports rose by 1.0 percent to $191.9 billion.
The increase in imports was led by a jump in imports of consumer goods, particularly pharmaceuticals, which helped offset a steep drop in imports of passenger cars.
Meanwhile, notable increases in exports of industrial supplies and materials and capital goods were partly offset by a decrease in exports of automotive vehicles, parts, and engines.
The report also showed the goods deficit widened to $85.4 billion in January from $84.1 billion in December, while the services surplus inched up to $17.2 billion from $17.1 billion.
“While the services surplus improved marginally, it was due to the weakness in imports, which remain near eight-year lows,” James Watson, Senior U.S. Economist at Oxford Economics.
He added, “Fiscally-stimulated US demand may propel total import volumes to recovery this quarter, but still-struggling global demand and travel restrictions will keep export volumes much further behind.”
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