The U.S. trade deficit shrank dramatically in February, according to figures released Thursday by the Commerce Department, with the decrease in the size of the deficit reflecting a sharp drop in the value of imports.
The report showed that the trade deficit narrowed to $46.0 billion in February from $52.5 billion in January
Most economists had expected the deficit to shrink somewhat from January, but the consensus had the deficit much wider at around $51.7 billion.
Commerce Department figures put the value of U.S. exports at $181.2 billion, a 0.1 percent increase from the $180.9 billion recorded in January.
Meanwhile, the value of imports tumbled 2.7 percent to $227.2 billion in February from the $233.4 billion recorded in the previous month.
In raw dollar terms, the value of U.S. exports was the highest on record, according to Commerce Department figures.
The 12.4 percent decrease in the size of the overall trade deficit is also the largest in several years, nearly matching the 12.5 percent drop recorded between April and May of 2009.
The overall decrease in the deficit reflected a $6 billion decrease in the goods deficit combined with a $500 million increase in the services surplus.
Commerce Department figures showed a decrease in exports of goods, eclipsed by a significantly larger decrease in imports. Conversely, the wider services surplus was the result of exports increasing faster than imports.
The decrease in the export of goods came largely in the automotive, food and industrial supply sectors and was partially mitigated by increases in exports of consumer goods and other goods categories.
The largest decreases in imports of goods came in the consumer goods, industrial supply and automotive sectors, with drops also recorded in the foods, feed and beverage sector and in capital goods.
The increase in the export of services came mainly in the travel, royalties and other private services sectors.
Imports of services came largely in travel and passenger fares, partially offset by a drop in other transportation - a category that includes freight and other port services.
by RTT Staff Writer
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