The US trade gap widened sharply in May to its highest level in 31 months as surging oil prices helped push imports to a near record and exports fell slightly from April’s record high.
The trade deficit totaled $50.2 billion, the highest since October 2008, and well above the consensus estimate of $44.0 billion from Wall Street analysts surveyed before the report, the government said on Tuesday.
Imports rose 2.6% to $225.1 billion, the highest since the record $231.6 billion set in July 2008 just before the global financial crisis.
The rise reflected record imports of capital goods and food, feeds and beverages in a sign of resurgent US demand. But a jump in oil import prices to $108.70 per barrel — the highest since August 2008 — accounted for a big part of the gain.