With exports climbing and imports falling, the Commerce Department released a report on Thursday showing a significantly narrower U.S. trade deficit in the month of March.
The Commerce Department said the trade deficit narrowed to $49.0 billion in March from a revised $57.7 billion in February.
Economists had expected the trade deficit to narrow to $50.0 billion from the $57.6 billion originally reported for the previous month.
The narrower deficit was partly due to a jump in the value of exports, which surged up by 2.0 percent to $208.5 billion in March from $204.4 billion in February.
Exports of civilian aircraft, foods, feeds, and beverages, and crude oil and other petroleum products showed significant increases during the month.
On the other hand, the report said the value of imports tumbled by 1.8 percent to $257.5 billion in March from $262.1 billion in February.
The decrease reflected notable declines in imports of consumer goods, computer accessories, telecom equipment, semiconductors and crude oil.
The release of the report came as U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is leading a delegation to China for highly anticipated trade talks.
The Commerce Department said the trade deficit with China widened to $35.4 billion in March from $34.7 billion in February, as imports rose by more than exports.
“Looking ahead, the surveys suggest that import growth will accelerate over the coming months,” said Andrew Hunter, U.S. Economist at Capital Economics. “But surveys of new export orders are also at a high level and the weaker dollar should still be providing a significant boost to external demand.”
He added, “Accordingly, assuming the Trump administration backs down from its protectionist threats, the outlook for exports is also fairly bright.”
The Commerce Department noted the goods deficit narrowed to $69.5 billion in March from $77.0 billion in February, while the services surplus rose to $20.5 billion from $19.2 billion.