US trade deficit shrinks to $38.8 bn in March

The US trade deficit shrank 11 percent in March from February as oil and consumer goods imports fell, government data released Thursday showed.

The Commerce Department reported the trade gap narrowed to $38.8 billion, from a revised $43.6 billion in February, the second month in a row that it shrank.

A sharp drop in imports reduced the gap in March. Imports totaled $223.1 billion, down from $229.6 in February.

Exports also declined, to $184.3 billion from $186.0 billion the prior month.

The country's trade balance in goods and services with the rest of the world was better than most analysts expected. The average estimate was for a $43.0 billion deficit.

Crude oil imports, which account for nearly 10 percent of the goods imported into the United States, fell 8.4 percent to $21.6 billion in March.

Consumer goods, including clothing and appliances, dropped 7.5 percent to $41.8 billion.