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US trade deficit narrows in March

04 May 2017

Exports to countries other than the United States, meanwhile, rose 15.3 percent, bolstered by sales to China, India and South Korea.

Other reports suggest US firms are benefiting from stronger economic growth around the globe, including in Europe and Asia.

Exports of those products rose 9.5 percent to $95.6 billion while imports increased 6.2 to $106.7 billion. Analysts had expected the deficit to rise by 1.4 per cent, according to a consensus forecast.

Energy products also led a decline in imports, which fell 10.8 percent to $27.5 billion, the lowest value since 2004. The trade gap with Mexico has surged almost 14% this year compared to the first quarter of 2016, hitting the highest level since November 2007.

Trade figures also carry political implications as President Donald Trump seeks to revamp US trade deals with other countries. He has called NAFTA a "disaster".

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"Combined with a continued creep higher in crude prices, look for energy to continue being a catalyst in supporting Canadian exports", CIBC economist Nick Exarhos wrote in a report. "The advance data pointed to a small increase in the deficit".

The flow of U.S. goods and services to several other trading partners criticized by the Trump administration were robust in the latest month.

Exports to the European Union and South Korea hit all-time monthly records at US$25.7 billion and US$4.4 billion respectively while exports to Germany were the highest in almost nine years at US$5 billion.

In March exports were $191.0 billion decreased by $1.7 billion compared with February, while imports were $234.7 billion, down by $1.7 billion versus last month. Production cuts agreed to previous year by petroleum producing countries helped drive up the average import price to $49.33, the highest since August 2015.

Driving the gain was a 7.0 per cent increase in energy exports to $8.7 billion.

US trade deficit narrows in March