Mumbai: The US trade deficit widened the most in 16 months, hitting $62.20 billion in July, up 5.7 per cent from June's revised figure of $58.84 billion, the commerce department said.
The spike has been attributed to a surge in oil prices in July as average oil prices jumped to a record $124.66 per barrel and the volume of crude oil imports grew to the highest in four years, official data showed.
The volume of oil imports jumped 15 per cent to a four-year high of 342 million barrels in July, even though prices were almost double the average of last July.
Total petroleum imports hit a record $51.4 billion, helping lift overall imports of goods and services 3.9 per cent to a record $230.3 billion.
Exports from the country climbed 3.3 per cent in July to $168.15 billion from $162.79 billion while imports increased by 3.9 per cent to $230.35 billion from $221.62 billion.
The increase in imports has been mainly due to a fall in US import prices which fell 3.7 per cent in August, the first decline since December as petroleum prices dropped 12.8 per cent.
Imports of autos and consumer goods declined slightly in July while those of food, feeds and beverages and capital goods rose slightly as demand picked up.
Non-oil imports declined in July to its lowest level since October 2002, while the petroleum deficit hit a record $43.4 billion.
Trade gap with China widened 16.1 per cent to $24.9 billion while the rising oil bill took trade deficit with Saudi Arabia and other members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries rose to a record $24.2 billion.
Exports of US goods and services increased 3.3 per cent to a record $168.1 billion, with record overseas sales of industrial supplies and materials, capital goods, autos and auto parts and consumer goods.
The number of people on benefit rolls shot up by 122,000 to 3.53 million in the week ended 30 August.
US retail sales excluding cars rose in August but high gasoline and food prices cut into spending on other goods and services.
Consumer spending, excluding autos, rose 0.4 per cent on a seasonally adjusted basis, slowing from the 1 per cent increase in July.