For the first time in five months, the U.S. trade deficit narrowed unexpectedly in January. the Commerce Department reported on March 11. The trade deficit shrank to a seasonally adjusted $37.3 billion, down from a revised $39.9 billion in December.
Imports dropped 1.7% to $180 billion, while exports slipped 0.3% to $142.7 billion.
U.S. trade volume with the rest of the world declined for the first time since August, by 1.1% from December.
The decrease in the trade deficit was partly due to a decline in crude oil imports to their weekest level since February 1999, at 245 million barrels. The trade gap in petroleum products continued to weigh heavily on the trade balance, though the deficit narrowed to $22.7 billion in January from $23.6 billion the previous month.
The average price of imported oil jumped to $73.89, its highest peak since October 2008.
In unadjusted data, the trade deficit with Canada, the largest U.S. trading partner, grew to $3.9 billion, marking the biggest gap since October 2008.
The trade deficit with China increased slightly, to $18.3 billion from $18.1 billion in December.
The deficit with two important trading partners narrowed to its lowest level since May, at $3.3 billion with Japan and $2.8 billion with European Union.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010