Reflecting a notable decrease in the value of exports, the Commerce Department released a report on Wednesday showing the U.S. trade deficit widened by more than expected in the month of January.
The report said the trade deficit widened to $56.6 billion in January from $53.9 billion in December. The deficit had been expected to widen to $55.1 billion.
The trade deficit in January was the widest since the $60.2 billion trade deficit seen in October of 2008.
Michael Pearce, Senior U.S. Economist at Capital Economics, said the data “suggests that net trade will once again be a drag on economic growth in the first quarter, and will only add fuel President Donald Trump’s protectionist rhetoric in recent weeks.”
The wider than expected trade deficit came as the value of exports slumped by 1.3 percent to $200.9 billion in January from $203.6 billion in December.
Notable decreases in exports of civilian aircraft, industrial supplies and materials, and other goods more than offset an increase in exports of consumer goods.
Meanwhile, the Commerce Department said the value of imports edged down by less than a tenth of a percent to $257.5 billion in January.
Decreases in imports of civilian aircraft, semiconductors, and cell phones and other household goods were largely offset by a jump in imports of crude oil.
The report also said the goods deficit widened to $76.5 billion in January from $73.7 billion in December, while the services surplus inched up to $19.9 billion from $19.8 billion.