U.S. exports to China reached another record high in November, narrowing the trade gap between the world’s top two economies, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported.
Exports to China reached $13.2 billion in November, up from the $13.1 billion in October, according to the figures reported by China Daily USA. Meanwhile, imports from China fell from $41.9 billion in October to $40.1 billion in November.
The U.S. trade deficit with China therefore further fell from $28.9 billion October to $26.9 billion in November. Exports to China for January to November 2013 totaled $108.9 billion, and imports from China totaled $402.9 billion. But the trade deficit with China remains America's largest with any country.
Exports increased primarily in soybeans and corn, and imports decreased primarily in toys, games, and sporting goods and apparel, according to the Commerce Department.
The overall U.S. trade deficit fell to its lowest level in four years in November as exports hit a record high and weak oil prices held down the import bill, the latest evidence of strengthening economic fundamentals, Reuters reported.
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The data boosted Asian markets Wednesday morning. Japan's Nikkei led the way with a rise of 1.1 percent, though some other regional markets remain out of favor as funds flock to assets in the western world. The dollar climbed against the yen.
Tuesday's report left economists anticipating a far stronger growth pace for the fourth-quarter than previously expected, with some predicting trade could contribute as much as a full percentage point to output during the period.
"The report should dispel worries that fourth quarter growth will be really weak," Joel Naroff, chief economist at Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pa., told Reuters. "It may not be robust, but should set us up for even better growth this year."
The trade gap fell 12.9 percent to $34.3 billion, the Commerce Department said. That was the smallest deficit since October 2009 and was below economists' expectations for a $40 billion shortfall.
The deficit stood at $39.3 billion in October.
When adjusted for inflation, the gap narrowed to $44.6 billion in November from $47.0 billion the prior month. This measure goes into the calculation of gross domestic product.
With more of what Americans consume being produced at home and exports rising, economists pushed up their fourth-quarter growth estimates by as much as 1 percentage point to as high as a 3.3 percent annual rate.
The economy grew at a 4.1 percent rate in the third quarter, but there had been fears that GDP growth could slow to a rate of not more than 2.5 percent as businesses worked through an inventory glut and a 16-day government shutdown in October reduced federal workers' output.
The trade data added to reports on employment, manufacturing and consumer spending that have suggested the economy is positioned for faster growth this year.
In November, exports rose 0.9 percent to $194.9 billion. That was the highest on record and marked a second straight month of gains. There were increases in exports of industrial supplies, capital goods and automobiles.
Petroleum exports hit an all-time high.
Overall imports fell 1.4 percent to $229.1 billion in November. Part of the decline reflected a lower petroleum import bill, which was the smallest since November 2010.