US Trade Deficit Improves

Posted June 9th, 2011 at 10:25 am (UTC-5)
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The U.S. trade deficit improved in April, as exports hit a record while imports of oil and automobiles declined.

Thursday's report from the Commerce Department showed the gap between what Americans sell overseas and what they buy from foreigners narrowed 6.7 percent to a monthly total of $43.7 billion.

High prices cut U.S. demand for imported oil while Japan's multiple disasters cut automobile production in that nation, slowing the flow of cars to American customers.

At the same time, the declining value of the dollar meant that U.S.-made goods were less expensive for foreign consumers, which boosted American exports.

A separate report showed a slight increase in the number of people signing up for unemployment compensation last week. The Labor Department says first-time claims for unemployment aid rose 1,000 to a nationwide total of 427,000.

That is lower than the total at the worst of the economic crisis, but higher than the level seen in a healthy job market.