The U.S. trade deficit widened 7.7% in February to the highest level in five months as exports of fuels and capital equipment dropped, the Commerce Department reported April 3.
The gap widened to $42.3 billion, the biggest since September, from the prior month’s $39.3 billion, Commerce reported.
The median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey called for a reduction to $38.5 billion. Imports were little changed.
Exports decreased 1.1% to $190.4 billion, depressed by declining sales of refined petroleum products. Fuel shipments to overseas customers had climbed in prior months as U.S. energy production grew.
Imports climbed 0.4% to $232.7 billion, the most since October, from $231.7 billion in the prior month. A jump in purchases of automobiles and parts was offset by a slump in demand for capital equipment, including computers and telecommunications products.
The deterioration in trade will further depress economic growth in the first quarter, which was suffering from slowdowns in consumer spending and manufacturing caused by unusually harsh winter weather.
The drop in exports probably will not be sustained as economies overseas, including the euro area, improve.