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US trade gap narrows in March on export jump

Jumps in exports of aircraft and automobiles and a fall in the oil import bill helped narrow the US trade deficit in March, Commerce Department data showed on Tuesday.

WASHINGTON: Jumps in exports of aircraft and automobiles and a fall in the oil import bill helped narrow the US trade deficit in March, Commerce Department data showed on Tuesday.

Exports rose by US$3.9 billion from February to US$193.9 billion and imports gained US$2.5 billion to US$234.4 billion, leaving the deficit at US$40.4 billion.

Capital goods, including often volatile numbers for aircraft, led the export gains, while imports rose on an increase in consumer goods -- a sign, analysts said, of a pickup in spending by US consumers after the economy's winter freeze.

The overall deficit trend however was little changed, with the first quarter showing a modest narrowing by US$425 million.

Analysts said the data was not particularly surprising but, that coupled with revisions to February's data, it would reduce last week's estimate of first quarter growth pace, which was 0.1 percent.

High Frequency Economics said the data would mean growth for the January-March period was zero -- but the analysts said the second quarter would show a rebound to a 4 percent pace.

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