The U.S. trade deficit fell to a 1½ -year low in May as exports rose to a record high, boosted by an increase in shipments of soybeans and commercial aircraft.
The Commerce Department said on Friday the trade gap narrowed 6.6 percent to $43.1 billion, the smallest since October 2016. Data for April was slightly revised to show the trade deficit falling to $46.1 billion, instead of the previously reported $46.2 billion.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the trade deficit declining to $43.7 billion in May. When adjusted for inflation, the trade gap narrowed to $75.3 billion, the lowest level since March 2017, from $77.5 billion in April. The so-called real trade deficit in April and May was below its $82.5 billion average in the first quarter.
The drop in the real trade deficit in April and May suggests trade could contribute to gross domestic product in the second quarter after having a neutral impact in the January-March period. Estimates for second-quarter GDP are above a 4.0 percent annualized rate, which is double the 2.0 percent growth pace logged in the first three months of the year.
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