A rise in exports and lower imports of oil helped push the U.S. trade deficit to its narrowest point in nearly three years in December, suggesting the economy did much better in the fourth quarter than initially estimated.
The country’s trade gap narrowed to $38.5 billion during the month, the Commerce Department said on Friday. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected a deficit of $46 billion.
“Trade data for December paint a reassuring and encouraging picture of the US economy at the end of last year,” said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit.
That suggests the U.S. government will revise upward its advance reading for fourth-quarter gross domestic product, which showed the economy contracted at a 0.1 percent annual rate in part because of a decline in inflation-adjusted exports.
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