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WASHINGTON: The US trade gap narrowed in November with imports and exports both falling while higher interest rates bite, the government reported Tuesday.

Although analysts expected the trade deficit to widen slightly, the gap was smaller than anticipated at $63.2 billion, down from a revised October figure of $64.5 billion, the Commerce Department said.

Resilient consumption has supported US trade, but analysts have expected the effect of higher interest rates, as it weighs on demand, to add pressure on imports.

Meanwhile, exports could take a hit from slower growth in major US trading partners as well, on the back of monetary policy tightening.

In November, US exports slipped $4.8 billion to $253.7 billion while imports dropped more, by $6.1 billion, to $316.9 billion.

“The November trade report signaled a sharp slowdown in exports and imports, with net trade likely to be broadly neutral for fourth quarter GDP growth,” said US economist Matthew Martin of Oxford Economics.

While consumer spending is set to slow in the coming quarters, it should still be robust enough to “prevent prolonged declines in imports,” Martin said in a note.

He added that exports have fared “relatively well” despite the weak global backdrop and should also be helped by a weakening dollar.

Behind November’s decrease in exports was a fall in goods including $3.6 billion less in industrial supplies and materials such as crude oil and non monetary gold.

Imports of goods also slipped, on the back of lower consumer goods imports such as those of cell phones and pharmaceutical preparations.

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