August 5, 2020 10:15 AM, EDT

Trade Gap Narrows as Autos Spur Record Exports Increase

Gantry cranes stand above the Port of Los Angeles.Gantry cranes stand above the Port of Los Angeles. (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg News)

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The deficit in U.S. trade of goods and services narrowed in June for the first time since February as exports jumped, though shipments remained well below pre-pandemic levels.

Exports increased from the prior month by 9.4%, the most in records to 1992 to $158.3 billion, according to Commerce Department data released Aug. 5. Imports climbed 4.7%, the most since March 2015, to $208.9 billion.

Both increases reflected a pickup in shipments of autos and parts after factories restarted production.

U.S. exports and imports improve, but remain below pre-pandemic levels.

The overall gap in goods and services trade narrowed to $50.7 billion, compared to the median estimate of $50.2 billion by a Bloomberg survey of economists, from a revised $54.8 billion in May.

The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on trade globally and in the U.S., the world’s largest economy has pulled back sharply since the outbreak began amid a surge in unemployment and a slowdown in international travel. At the same time, American exporters may stand to benefit from a recent decline in the value of the dollar, which makes U.S. goods more competitive in overseas markets.

Combined, the value of U.S. exports and imports rose to $367.2 billion, after dropping to the lowest level since 2010 in May.

The data show exports of automotive vehicles, parts and engines more than doubled to $8.3 billion, but remained at levels last seen in 2009.

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