(Bloomberg) — The US merchandise-trade deficit narrowed slightly in February from a record a month earlier as export growth outpaced that of imports.
The gap decreased to $106.6 billion last month — the second-widest on record — from $107.6 billion in January, Commerce Department data showed Monday. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a $106.5 billion shortfall. The data aren’t adjusted for inflation.
Exports increased 1.2% to $157.2 billion, led by a jump in consumer goods, foods and feeds, and industrial supplies such as oil. The value of imports rose 0.3% to $263.7 billion, restrained by the largest slump in inbound shipments of motor vehicles in a year.
The slowdown in imports may have reflected disruptions of US-Canada trade flows related to Canadian trucker protests. Otherwise, the trade figures underscore both resilient demand and producer interest in adding to materials inventories after the pandemic sparked a myriad of supply shortages and shipping delays last year. China’s latest lockdown underscores lingering logistics challenges for American companies.
The Commerce Department’s report also showed US wholesale inventories increased 2.1%, while retail inventories rose 1.1%.
A more complete February trade picture that includes the balance on services will come into greater focus when the final report is released on April 5.
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