July 12, 2011 9:00 AM, EDT

U.S. Trade Deficit Hits Highest Level Since 2008

Kimberly White/Bloomberg News

The U.S. trade deficit spiked 15% in May to its highest level since October 2008, the Commerce Department said Tuesday.

The gap between imports and exports rose to $50.2 billion, from a revised $43.6 billion in April, Commerce figures showed.

The higher trade deficit mirrors a hike in crude oil imports, Bloomberg reported.

The deficit increase surpassed the forecasts of all 73 economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

Exports dipped 0.5% to $174.9 billion, which is still the second highest level on record, Bloomberg reported. Foreign demand for industrial supplies declined, but purchases of American-made capital equipment reached a new high, Bloomberg said.

Imports rose 2.6% to $225.1 billion, the second highest mark on record and the highest since July 2008, Bloomberg reported. Imports of food and foreign-made capital goods hit record levels in May, while the petroleum gap reached its highest mark since October 2008, Bloomberg said.