The U.S. trade deficit widened in May to the highest level in 18 months as a rebounding economy pushed up demand for imports of foreign-made cars, computers and clothing.

The Commerce Department says the trade deficit increased 4.8 percent to $42.3 billion, the largest imbalance since November 2008. American exports of goods and services rose 2.4 percent but this increase was outpaced by a 2.9 percent rise in imports.

American manufacturing has been a standout performer so far in this recovery, benefiting from a global economic recovery. But the concern is that export sales will be hurt by the European debt crisis, which has dampened growth prospects in Europe.