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SMALLER TRADE GAP: The U.S. trade deficit fell to its lowest level in 18 months in June, pushed down by a steep drop in oil imports and a rise in exports. The trade gap narrowed to $42.9 billion in June from $48 billion in May, the Commerce Department said Thursday. That brought the trade deficit in oil to its lowest level since November 2010.
THE DETAILS: Exports rose 0.9 percent to a record high of $185 billion as overseas sales of autos, pharmaceuticals, and industrial machinery increased. Imports fell 1.5 percent to $227.9 billion, the lowest in four months as the average price of imported oil fell. Imports of computer equipment and TVs also declined.
WHAT IT MEANS: A narrower trade gap acts as less of a drag on growth because it means the United States is spending less on foreign-made products and is taking in more from sales of U.S.-made goods.