WASHINGTON -- On a surge in imports from the end of the West Coast port strike, backed by the strong dollar, the U.S. trade deficit swelled in March to a six-year high,
The trade gap was $51.4 billion in March, jumping from a slightly upwardly revised $35.9 billion in February, the Commerce Department said Tuesday.
The March deficit was the highest since October 2008 amid the financial crisis. The increase from February far exceeded the average analyst estimate of a $40.0 billion deficit and was the largest monthly gain since late 1996.
Imports surged to $239.2 billion in March from $222.1 billion in February, while exports edged up to $187.8 billion from $186.2 billion.
The end of the West Coast port strike in late February, in a deal between management and dock workers, unleashed a flood of imports that had been backed up in the months-long work slowdown, Commerce Department data showed.
The economy imported a record $54.2 billion in consumer goods in March, the department highlighted, as the strong dollar underpinned buying power.
Robust crude oil production pushed the U.S. trade surplus with the countries of the OPEC oil cartel to a record $1.2 billion.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015