A container ship passes through San Francisco bay on its way to the Pacific Ocean
Washington - AFP
The US trade deficit narrowed in August as exports grew faster than imports, the Commerce Department reported Friday.
The trade gap fell to $40.1 billion in August from $40.3 billion in July. The July number was revised down slightly from $40.5 billion.
Total August exports increased 0.2 percent to $198.5 billion, while imports rose 0.1 percent to $238.6 billion.
Economists on average had forecast the gap would swell to $40.9 billion.
Lower oil imports were a key driver of the shrinking shortfall. The petroleum products deficit fell to $13.1 billion, its lowest level since July 2004.
Amid booming US oil production, petroleum product exports surged to a record $14.1 billion, while imports fell 3.9 percent to $27.2 billion.
The US trade gap has been on a downward trend since June, with the three-month moving average falling to $40.4 billion in August from $41.5 billion the prior month.
"The continued improvement in US export growth suggests that the world recovery remains intact and stronger import growth confirms that the US recovery is gaining momentum," said Kyle Hillman of Moody's Analytics.
Year-over-year, the August trade deficit increased by about $600 million, with exports growing 4.1 percent and imports up 3.7 percent.