The U.S. trade deficit in February fell sharply to its lowest level since 2009, likely as a labor dispute at one of the country's main ports depressed both imports and exports.
But the smaller deficit, which could see economists raise their first-quarter growth estimates, is probably temporary given a stronger dollar and weaker global demand.
The Commerce Department said on Thursday the trade deficit narrowed 16.9 percent to $35.4 billion, the smallest since October 2009.
January's shortfall on the trade balance was revised to $42.7 billion from a previously reported $41.8 billion.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the trade deficit slipping to $41.2 billion.
When adjusted for inflation, the deficit narrowed to $50.8 billion in February from $54.6 billion the prior month.
The now-settled labor dispute at the West Coast ports appears to have slowed the flow of imports and exports. The strong dollar, weak global demand as well as lower crude oil prices also likely impacted the trade balance in February.