US says 2nd-quarter trade deficit eased slightly

The United States trade deficit improved slightly in the April-June period from the previous three months, as the nation had a $36.02 billion foreign trade imbalance, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. The report came a day after Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldrige told a House committee that the US trade deficit might have finally peaked, partly because of the steep drop in the dollar during the past 18 months.

The Commerce Department said the second-quarter trade deficit was down 1.2 percent from a $36.46 billion deficit in the January-March quarter.

The figures in Wednesday's report cover trade on a balance-of-payments basis, omitting such things as military sales and costs of shipping and insurance.

Imports to the US hit a record $90.02 billion in the April-June quarter, up 0.8 percent from the first quarter of the year. American exports climbed 2.1 percent, to $54.8 billion, largely because of a one-time gold sale to Japan, the department said.

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