FILE - In this Feb. 20, 2015 file photo, the HS Mozart cargo ship, right, operated by the German shipping company Hansa Shipping, sits anchored in Commencement Bay near the Port of Tacoma, Wash. The Commerce Department reports on the U.S. trade gap for July on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

FILE - In this Feb. 20, 2015 file photo, the HS Mozart cargo ship, right, operated by the German shipping company Hansa Shipping, sits anchored in Commencement Bay near the Port of Tacoma, Wash. The Commerce Department reports on the U.S. trade gap ... for July on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File) (The Associated Press)

US trade gap likely narrowed in July after big increase in June

Economic Indicators Associated Press

The Commerce Department reports on the U.S. trade gap for July at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Thursday.

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SMALLER DEFICIT: The expectation is that the deficit narrowed slightly to $42.6 billion in July, according to a survey of economists by data firm FactSet.

US DEMAND: The deficit in June widened by 7 percent to $43.8 billion, up from $40.9 billion in May, as solid consumer spending pulled in more imports while the strong dollar restrained exports.

Economists expect the July deficit will narrow a bit because they believe U.S. exports rose a bit and imports declined.

Trade has been volatile this year. Labor disputes at West Coast ports in the first quarter delayed imports and the shipment of U.S. goods overseas. That lowered exports and pushed the deficit to $50.6 billion in March, a three-year high.

Trade subtracted nearly 2 percentage points from overall economic growth in the first quarter, when the economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, slowed to a growth rate of just 0.6 percent. A narrowing of the deficit in the April-June period left trade adding a modest 0.2 percentage point to growth in the second quarter, when the GDP rebounded to a gain of 3.7 percent.