US trade deficit narrows further to $43.5bn
US imports have stagnated over the last six months
9 December 2011 Last updated at 14:49
The US trade deficit narrowed further in October as imports fell faster than exports, official data has shown.
Total exports of $179bn (£115bn) fell 0.8% from September, while imports fell 1% to $223bn, giving a total deficit of $43.5bn, or roughly 3.5% of GDP.
Imports have largely stagnated over the past six months as the US economy has slowed, while exports have continued their steady post-recession recovery.
The US Commerce Department data was in line with market expectations.
Imports have also been held down by the average price paid by the US for imported oil, which fell for the fifth month in a row to $98.84 per barrel.
It helped the trade deficit reach its lowest monthly level this year.
The US ratified new trade treaties with South Korea, Panama and Colombia in October – the first such treaties in four years.
The government expects the deals to boost US exports by $13bn a year in the future.