Record imports expanded the U.S. trade deficit for the fourth straight month in September. The politically sensitive trade deficit in goods with China hit a record.

The Commerce Department says the gap between what America sells and what it buys abroad climbed to $54 billion, up 1.3 percent from $53.3 billion in August and the highest level since February.

Imports climbed 1.5 percent to a record $266.6 billion, and exports also rose 1.5 percent to $212.6 billion. The goods deficit with China rose by 4.3 percent to a record $40.2 billion.

President Donald Trump has made a priority of reducing America's huge, persistent trade deficits. Despite his tariffs on imported steel and aluminum and on Chinese goods, the deficit so far this year is up 10.1 percent to $445.2 billion.