WASHINGTON (Fox Business) - The U.S. trade deficit surged to a record high in February as the nation’s economic activity rebounded more quickly than that of its global rivals and could remain elevated this year, with massive fiscal stimulus expected to spur the fastest growth in nearly four decades.
The economy is roaring as increased COVID-19 vaccinations and the White House’s $1.9 trillion pandemic rescue package boost domestic demand, a chunk of which is being satiated with imports. The aggressive government intervention and the Federal Reserve’s ultra-easy monetary policy have charted a robust growth path for the economy.
The trade deficit jumped 4.8% to a record $71.1 billion in February, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast a $70.5 billion deficit. The goods trade gap was also the highest on record.
Imports slipped 0.7% to $258.3 billion. Goods imports fell 0.9% to $219.1 billion. The drop likely reflected supply-chain constraints, rather than weak domestic demand. Indeed, imports of capital goods hit a record high, while those of industrial supplies and materials were the highest since October 2018.
The United States in February recorded its first petroleum deficit since December 2019, likely because of higher crude prices.
Exports dropped 2.6% to $187.3 billion. Exports of goods tumbled 3.5% to $131.1 billion, likely hurt by unseasonably cold weather across large parts of the country.