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WASHINGTON: The US trade gap narrowed in March as exports of goods including industrial supplies rose, according to government data released on Thursday.

In March, the overall trade deficit stood at $64.2 billion, narrowing more than expected by $6.4 billion from February, according to the Commerce Department.

As the world’s biggest economy shows signs of cooling, analysts have said they expect some softening in trade as consumers pull back on spending.

US economic growth slowed to an annual rate of 1.1 percent in the first quarter, while the full impact of the Federal Reserve’s interest rate hikes to rein in inflation and unrest in the banking sector threaten to weigh on the outlook ahead.

US goods trade deficit narrows sharply in March; retail inventories rise

For now, exports rose by $5.3 billion to $256.2 billion in March, said the Commerce Department, while imports slipped by $1.1 billion to $320.4 billion.

Among categories, the rise in exports was largely driven by goods such as industrial supplies and materials – including crude oil and fuel oil, alongside autos and parts.

Imports of goods such as semiconductors and petroleum products slipped, but that of consumer goods like pharmaceutical-related items rose.

The US goods deficit with China declined $2.3 billion to $22.9 billion in March, while the US deficit with the European Union dropped as well.

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