Dow Jones

WASHINGTON — The trade deficit widened in July, hitting a record as oil prices inflated imports and exports eased after a jump in June.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that the trade gap rose to $31.89 billion in July, an increase from the revised $29.85 billion. June’s gap had been initially estimated at $30.62 billion.

The news unnerved financial markets, sending stock prices lower. Wall Street analysts had projected the gap would rise to $31 billion, according to a Dow Jones Newswires survey.

The Commerce Department said exports fell by 1.5%, to $89.67 billion. Imports rose 0.6% to $121.56 billion, making July the 14th straight month that imports had been above the $100 billion mark. Stronger imports reflected robust U.S. consumption in July. While that may trouble Federal Reserve policymakers, more recent data have indicated slower growth in consumer demand.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.