WASHINGTON – The U.S. trade deficit fell 17 percent in February to $35.4 billion, its lowest level since 2009, the Commerce Department said Thursday.
The trade deficit shrank even though a strong dollar and weak global demand adversely affected U.S. companies’ foreign sales.
The deficit fell more than $7.2 billion from January, whose figure was upwardly revised from $41.8 billion to $42.7 billion. That decrease far exceeded forecasts by analysts, who had expected a $41.7 billion deficit in February.
U.S. exports fell 1.6 percent in February to $186.2 billion, their lowest level since October 2012, the department said.
Imports, however, fell 4.4 percent to $221.7 billion, their lowest level in nearly three years.
Imports declined in February due to a drop in the value of purchases of oil, electronic equipment, and industrial machinery from foreign suppliers and a since-resolved West Coast ports dispute that snarled international trade.