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Economic Report: U.S. trade deficit falls 6.2% to $79.6 billion and hits six-month low

The numbers: The nation’s trade deficit fell 6.2% in June to a six-month low of $79.6 billion, reflecting rising exports and higher prices for U.S. oil sold overseas.

The deficit narrowed from $84.9 billion in May and declined for the third month in a row.

Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had forecast an $80 billion shortfall.

Exports rose 1.7% in June to a record $260 billion.

Imports slid 0.3% to $340 billion from an all-time high in May.

Big picture: The U.S. posted a record trade gap last year and is on track to do so again in 2022 despite a recent downtrend.

A higher deficit subtracts from gross domestic product, the official scorecard of the U.S. economy. The large trade gap was the chief reason GDP contracted in the first quarter for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

While a lower deficit gave a boost to second-quarter GDP and might do so again in the third quarter, the benefit is unlikely to last. The global economy has weakened and that will probably curb U.S. exports.

Whatever the case, the U.S. has run huge deficits for years with little effect on the broader economy.

Key details: Exports of oil, food and gold increased in June, largely reflecting rising prices due to high inflation.

Imports of autos and parts fell in June. The U.S. imported more oil and computers.

Looking ahead: “Faltering global growth and the stronger dollar are set to hit export demand over the coming months,” said Andrew Hunter, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics.

Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA,
-0.23%

and S&P 500
SPX,
-0.13%

were set to open mixed in Thursday trades.

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