The surge in imports was driven by a $2.4 billion jump in consumer goods, nearly half of which came from cell phones and other household goods. Industrial supplies and materials imports rose by $1.0 billion, led by crude oil and petroleum products. Imports of automotive vehicles, parts and engines rose by $899 million, while semi-conductors and aircraft parts drove a $668 million increase in capital goods imports. Imports of foods, feeds and beverages fell a by scant $57 million.
The biggest contributions to the change in the deficit in January came from capital goods and consumer goods. Consumer goods accounted for half of the trade deficit in goods in January, while automotive vehicles and parts accounted for a quarter of the deficit.
Although the trade deficit widened in January, it was due to very strong imports, suggesting robust demand from U.S. consumers and businesses. The swift appreciation of the dollar over the last few months has also contributed to the widening imbalance. However, with the dollar taking a breather since the beginning of the year, we may see a slight narrowing of the deficit in the coming months.