U.S. Trade Deficit Improves in February

The Commerce Dept. reported a better-than-expected trade deficit result for February. Despite the better numbers over January, 2006's numbers still lag behind early 2005.

The U.S. Commerce Dept. reported that America's trade deficit fell to $65.7 billion, a 4.2 percent decline from January's record decline of $68.7 billion.

Even with the improvement, the February trade gap was the third highest on record and the deficit for the first two months of this year is 13.5 percent above the pace in early 2005.

The associated Press reported that U.S. trade negotiators struck a number agreements on Tuesday with China designed to boost U.S. exports, and President Bush has said he will raise one of the thorniest trade issues, China's undervalued currency, when he meets next week at the White House with Chinese President Hu Jintao. 

The overall improvement in February's trade deficit reflected a 2.3 percent drop in imports which fell to $178.7 billion, the second highest level on record but below the all-time high set in January.

According to AP, there were declines in imports of new cars and auto parts and various consumer goods including cell phones, furniture, stereo equipment and televisions. America's foreign oil bill edged up a slight 0.2 percent to $24.6 billion as the price of crude oil rose.

U.S. exports fell by 1.2 percent in February to $112.99 billion, still the second highest level on record after an all-time high of $114.33 billion in January. Sales of computers, industrial machinery and American farm products were all down while exports of civilian aircraft rose.

On Tuesday, U.S. and Chinese trade officials announced agreements aimed at narrowing the deficit by cracking down on Chinese copyright piracy, lifting a ban on U.S. beef shipments and increasing market access for U.S. products and services.

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