UPDATE 1-U.S. trade gap narrows more than expected in July

WASHINGTON, Sept 9 (BestGrowthStock) – The U.S. trade deficit
narrowed more than expected in July, as imports retreated and
exports shot to their highest since August 2008, according to a
government report on Thursday that could lift hopes for
third-quarter economic growth.

The monthly trade deficit shrank 14 percent to $42.8
billion, which was smaller than the mid-point forecast of $47.3
billion from economists surveyed before the Commerce Department
report.

Exports rose to 1.8 percent to $153.3 billion, led by
strong overseas demand for U.S. civilian aircraft, machinery,
computers and other capital goods.

Imports fell 2.1 percent to $196.1 billion, after a 3
percent rise in June that had caught many analysts by surprise
and lowered estimates of second-quarter U.S. growth. The drop
in July was the largest since February 2009.

The dollar regained some ground against the Japanese yen
after the favorable data on the U.S. trade balance and a
separate report showing fewer claims for jobless benefits.

Stock futures continued to gain after the reports.

Despite the improvement in the monthly trade gap, the
cumulative deficit for the first seven months of 2010 rose to
$288.83 billion from $203.96 billion in the same period in
2009.

In the second quarter of this year, a sharp widening in the
trade gap sliced nearly 3.4 percent pionts off of U.S. economic
growth.

July imports from both China and Germany — two countries
with persistent trade surpluses — were the highest since
October 2008.

The closely watched trade deficit with China fell almost 1
percent in July, but for the first seven months of the year it
was nearly 18 percent higher, at $145.4 billion, compared to
the same period in 2009.

With congressional elections looming in November and U.S.
unemployment a high 9.6 percent, U.S. lawmakers are expected to
turn their attention to China’s exchange rate practices when
they return next week from their summer recess.

Many accuse Beijing of deliberately undervaluing its
currency by as much as 40 percent to give Chinese exporters an
unfair trade advantage.

However, the July increase in U.S. exports, including to
China, is good news for President Barack Obama’s
administration, which has hoped healthy foreign demand will
help put the U.S. economy back on a strong footing. Obama has
set a goal of doubling exports in five years.

Prices for imported oil fell slightly in July to an average
of $72.09 per barrel, the second consecutive monthly decline.

(Reporting by Doug Palmer, Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

UPDATE 1-U.S. trade gap narrows more than expected in July