WASHINGTON (AP) _ America's trade deficit narrowed slightly to $28.8 billion in July as a big drop in imports of cars, oil and other foreign products offset the biggest fall in U.S. exports on record. The U.S. deficit with Western Europe set a record and the imbalances with both Japan and China widened signficantly.
The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that the July trade deficit was 0.8 percent smaller than the June imbalance of $29.1 billion.
However, the improvement, rather than signaling economic strength, was a reflection of widespread weakness both in the United States, which has been struggling with a pronounced economic slowdown for more than a year, and in the rest of the world, which has also begun to slow sharply.
The spreading weakness overseas pushed U.S. exports of goods and services down by $2.1 billion in July, the biggest monthly drop on record. The 2.5 percent fall in percentage terms left exports at $83.7 billion for the month.
Imports fell for the fourth straight month, a decline of 2.1 percent, which pushed the total down to $112.6 billion, the lowest level since January 2000.