Ariana Lindquist/Bloomberg News
The trade deficit narrowed in March by 3.6% to $40.4 billion from the prior month’s $41.9 billion, the Commerce Department reported.
The median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey of 66 economists called for a reduction to $40 billion. Sales to foreign customers climbed 2.1% on growing demand for aircraft, autos and fuels.
A slowdown in trade helped depress economic growth in the first quarter, which was already held back by harsh winter weather that trimmed business investment. The March improvement adds to a spate of data showing the world’s largest economy was gaining steam heading into the second quarter.
“We are looking for exports to continue to outpace growth in the overall economy,” said Mike Englund, chief economist at Action Economics. “We’re assuming a 3% to 4% clip in export growth. The world economy is growing slightly faster than the U.S. economy.”