U.S. trade deficit jumps to 12-year high in July

FILE PHOTO: A container ship is shown at port in Long Beach, California, U.S. July 16, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. trade deficit surged to its highest level since 2008 in July amid a record increase in imports, suggesting that trade could be a drag on economic growth in the third quarter.

The Commerce Department said on Thursday the trade deficit jumped 18.9% to $63.6 billion, the highest since July 2008.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the trade gap widening to $58 billion in July.

Imports soared by a historic 10.9% to $231.7 billion. Goods imports vaulted 12.3% to $196.4 billion. Exports increased 8.1% to $168.1 billion. Goods exports rose 11.9% to $115.5 billion.

A smaller trade bill contributed to gross domestic product over the last three quarters. The coronarivus crisis severely disrupted trade flows, which are now picking up.

Reporting By Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama