The U.S. trade deficit widened in May, fueled by a drop in exports that could heighten concerns over weak overseas demand and a strong U.S. dollar.
The Commerce Department reported on Tuesday that the trade gap grew $1.2 billion to $41.9 billion. That was less than the $42.6 billion deficit expected by analysts and suggests Wall Street economists may slightly raise their forecasts for economic growth in the second quarter.
But the drop in exports in May highlights a change in the tenor of economic growth since the United States exited the 2007-2009 recession. The economy relied more on export-led industries such as manufacturing early in the recovery, but growth is increasingly coming from domestic drivers like construction and services as the economic cycle matures.
Exports fell $1.5 billion, or 0.8 percent, to $188.6 billion in May, led by a drop in overseas sales of U.S.-made capital goods. Imports fell by about $300 million, or 0.1 percent, to $230.5 billion.
Prices for U.S. Treasuries rose after the data, while U.S. stock index futures were unchanged. The dollar gained against a basket of currencies.