U.S. Trade Gap Narrows 5.9%

The U.S. trade gap narrowed sharply in June as a strengthening global economy pushes up demand for American exports overseas.

The trade deficit with other nations contracted 5.9% from a month earlier to $43.64 billion, the Commerce Department said Friday. The deficit fell because exports rose 1.2% while imports fell 0.2%.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected a $44.1 billion deficit.

The report offered encouraging news for the U.S. economy, which has grown sluggishly this year but is starting to reap more benefits from strengthening economies overseas and a weakened dollar. Steady growth in Asia, Europe and South America is pushing up demand for American goods like soybeans and petroleum.

Exports of goods reached the highest level on record in June, after inflation. Petroleum exports also hit an all-time high.

Imports fell in June due largely to declines in consumer goods like cellphones, jewelry and apparel, as well as a drop in imported crude oil. Imports of capital goods rose, a possible sign of higher business investment spending.

The U.S. still imports more goods and services than it exports, and the broader trend shows a widening deficit. Through the first half of this year, the trade gap widened 10.7% compared to the same period a year earlier. Exports have risen 6% this year while imports have grown 6.9%.

The Commerce Department report on trade can be found at http://www.census.gov/ft900.

Write to Josh Mitchell at joshua.mitchell@wsj.com and Eric Morath at eric.morath@wsj.com.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 04, 2017 08:45 ET (12:45 GMT)