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The Boston Globe

Business

US trade deficit drops to $44.4 billion in May

WASHINGTON — The US trade deficit fell in May as US exports hit an all-time high, helped by a jump in exports of petroleum products. Imports dipped slightly.

The trade deficit narrowed 5.6 percent in May to $44.4 billion after hitting a two-year high of $47 billion in April, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.

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Exports of goods and services rose 1 percent to a record $195.5 billion in May while imports fell a slight 0.3 percent to $239.8 billion.

A lower trade deficit boosts overall economic growth when it shows US companies are earning more in their overseas sales.

Many analysts expect growth will rebound to a healthy rate between 3 percent and 3.5 percent, helped in part by stronger exports.

In 2013, the trade deficit declined 11.3 percent. That reflected in part a boom in US energy production that cut into America’s dependence on foreign oil while boosting US petroleum exports.

The larger trade gap in the first three months of this year, compared to the fourth quarter, shaved 1.5 percentage points from growth. That was a big factor in helping to push the economy into reverse.

In addition to a higher trade deficit, the economy was held back by severe winter which dampened consumer spending.

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