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Trade Gap Unexpectedly Shrinks

The deficit is $55 billion in March, much smaller than forecast.
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The U.S. trade deficit was a much narrower-than-expected $55 billion in March, as exports rose, thanks to the weakening dollar. Economists had been expecting the deficit to widen to nearly $62 billion from February's record gap of $60.6 billion.

Exports rose 1.5% in March to $102.2 billion, while imports fell 2.5% to $157.2 billion, according to the Commerce Department. The decline in imports reflected across-the-board shrinkage, except for oil, which saw more overseas products bought at a higher average price.

Purchase of overseas consumer goods fell about 7%, while imports of autos and auto parts fell 6% and imports of factory equipment fell about 1%.

Meanwhile, exports of aircraft, consumer goods and capital equipment all posted healthy gains.

The trade deficit is a key component of the gross domestic product calculation and February's number will result in that measure of growth being revised upward. First-quarter growth was initially estimated at 3.1%.