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. Junes 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.