U.S. trade deficit widened to US$51.8B in March from US$45.4B in February, the fastest pace in 10 months; imports rose 5.2% to record US$238.6B, exports climbed 2.9% to US$186.8B

WASHINGTON , May 10, 2012 () – The U.S. trade deficit rose in March at the fastest rate in 10 months. A rise in consumer goods lifted imports to a record level, outpacing a solid gain in U.S. exports.

The Commerce Department says the trade deficit widened to $51.8 billion in March, up from $45.4 billion in February. Imports rose 5.2 percent to a record $238.6 billion, reflecting more foreign oil, autos, cell phones and clothes.

Exports increased 2.9 percent to $186.8 billion. Sales to Europe reached an all-time high despite the region's debt crisis.

Economists caution that export growth, a bright spot for the U.S. economy, could slow in coming months if more European countries fall into recession.

© 2017 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.