Although the U.S. international trade deficit in goods and services for this year's first three months approached the $200 billion mark, March's $62 billion deficit was the lowest monthly shortfall since the $58.5 billion deficit recorded in August 2005, reveal data released by the U.S. Commerce Department on May 12.
In March, imports valued at $176.7 billion outpaced U.S. exports of $114.7 billion. Again the largest single-country trade deficit was with China. It totaled $15.6 billion in March, up nearly $2 billion from $13.8 billion in February.
For the first three months of 2006, the U.S. trade deficit in goods and services with the rest of the world was $196.2 billion, more than $20 billion ahead of the $172.1 mark for the first three months of 2005.
Separately, the U.S. Labor Department reported on May 12 that its index of U.S. import prices rose 2.1% in April, led by the largest increase in petroleum prices in more than a year. Petroleum prices rose 11.5% last month, dramatically higher than March's half-percent increase. In April, the price index for U.S. exports rose six-tenths of a percentage point, its fifth consecutive increase.