The U.S. trade deficit narrowed slightly to $9.37 billion in June, the first decline in three months, the government said Thursday. Still, the annual merchandise trade gap appeared headed toward the second highest on record.
The Commerce Department reported the deficit in both goods and services was 1.6 percent less than the revised $9.52 billion a month earlier, when the gap shot up 11.6 percent. The original May estimate was $9.17 billion.Many analysts had expected the imbalance to shrink about 2 percent.
Exports rose 3.6 percent, or $2 billion, to a record $58.17 billion, led by sales of aircraft and telecommunications and computer equipment.
Imports grew 2.8 percent, or $1.86 billion, to a $67.54 billion. Nearly half of the increase was attributed to crude oil shipments.
The deficit is the difference between imports and exports.
Commerce Secretary Ron Brown said the report was further evidence of a continuing, sustainable economic expansion.