A streak of shrinking U.S. trade deficits for eight straight months ended in March, with a government report showing on Tuesday that exports fell faster than imports as foreign companies purchased less capital goods.

Amid a tough economy, Americans have been buying far less goods from abroad. While goods shipped abroad from U.S.-based companies have been falling as well, the decline had not been as precipitous.

Streak ends

The trade gap was $62.5 billion in July of 2008. It had been declining consistently until February, reaching $26.1 billion. However exports in March fell slightly faster than imports, creating a $27.6 billion gap for that month.

A breakdown of export declines from February to March reveals that the biggest drop in exports was in capital goods at $1.7 billion as foreign companies cut back on spending. Consumer goods exports fell $500 million.

Top 5 trading partner deficits

The top 5 largest deficits were with China at $15.6 billion, the European Union at $4.4 billion, Mexico at $3.9 billion, Japan at $2.6 billion, and oil cartel OPEC at $2.4 billion.

Top 4 trading partner surpluses

The top 4 largest surpluses listed by the department were with Hong Kong at $1.5 billion, Australia at $1.1 billion, Singapore at $500 million, and Egypt at $300 million.