The U.S. trade deficit grew by 16.5% in January, led by demand for imported crude oil, the Commerce Department said Thursday.
The gap between imports and exports grew to $44.4 billion from $38.1 billion in December, Commerce said.
Economists had projected a $42.6 billion deficit for January, Bloomberg News reported.
Imports increased 1.8% to $228.9 billion, while exports decreased 1.2% to $184.5 billion. The import increase reflected a rise in purchases of barrels of imported crude oil that rose to 8.41 million, the most since August, from 7.19 million in December, Bloomberg reported.