WASHINGTON — The U.S. international trade deficit was $44.2 billion in August, a 4.1% increase from the revised $42.5 billion deficit in July, originally reported as $42 billion, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.

The August deficit was nearly right on the median $44 billion figure estimated by economists polled by Thomson Reuters, and resulted from total exports of $181.3 billion and imports of $225.5 billion.

The August mark was $600 million lower than the $43.6 billion deficit reported for the same month in 2011. Exports rose $2.9 billion, or 1.6%, from the previous year. Imports were up $2.3 billion, or 1%.

Exports were 1% below the previous month's revised level of $183.2 billion, and reflected decreases in industrial supplies, foods feeds and beverages, and consumer goods, the Commerce Department said. The $39 billion of industrial supplies exports represents the lowest figure since a $38.6 billion mark in February 2011.

Imports fell 0.1% from the revised July level of $225.7 billion, primarily due to a drop off in the consumer goods and automotive categories. Imports of goods, not counting services, have now decreased for five consecutive months.

The Commerce Department also announced that beginning in March, it will release international trade data approximately 34-36 days after month's end, rather than the current time frame of about 42 days.

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