The trade deficit narrowed to $62 billion in March, reflecting stronger-than-expected demand for U.S. goods abroad and a since-reversed fall in energy prices.
The difference in value between goods imported to the U.S. and those sold abroad was the narrowest in eight months, and narrowed from a revised $65.6 billion in February. Economists were expecting the deficit to widen to $67.5 billion.
U.S. exports totaled $114.7 billion in March, up 1.9% from February. The amount was a monthly record. Imports totaled $176.7 billion, down 0.8% from February.
Oil continued to be a big part of the trade imbalance, with the value of imported crude rising to $16.3 billion in March from $15.6 billion. The gain reflected higher volume partially offset by a slightly lower average price.
Separately Friday, the Commerce Department said import prices rose by 2.1% last month, topping expectations for a 1.2% rise.