April 12, 2012 9:00 AM, EDT

Trade Deficit Narrows as Imports Drop

Larry Smith/Trans Pixs

The U.S. trade deficit narrowed by 12% in February on lower imports, including a big drop in crude oil imports, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.

The gap between imports and exports fell to $46 billion, from a revised $52.5 billion in January that was slightly lower than originally reported.

The trade gap was below economists’ forecasts of a $51.8 billion deficit, Bloomberg reported.

Imports fell 2.7% to $227.2 billion, the lowest since November and biggest percentage drop in three years. Oil imports fell to the lowest level since February 1997.

Exports edged up 0.1% to $181.2 billion, Commerce said.