WASHINGTON -- The U.S. trade deficit narrowed in February, driven by a drop in crude oil imports and an increase in American goods and services exported abroad, the Commerce Department said Friday.
With exports rising more than imports, the seasonally adjusted trade deficit was $43 billion in February, down from a revised $44.5 billion the previous month.
The 3.4% decline in the trade deficit was below analyst expectations that the deficit would rise slightly to $44.6 billion.
The report was a bit of good economic news among recent disappointing reports, particularly Friday's data that the nation added just 88,000 new jobs in March. Increased exports could provide a boost to the economy, but the trade data is older than recent figures that indicated a slowdown in growth last month.
The deficit rose sharply in January because of increased imports of crude oil and other petroleum-related products. The pendulum swung back in February when crude oil imports dropped to their lowest level since 1996 as prices increased.