The U.S trade deficit with its global partners fell in November for the first time after five straight months of increases as the shortfall with China and several other countries declined.
Tightening the balance between imports and exports has been a major goal of the Trump administration, which last year started levying tariffs in an effort to close the gap.
A release from the government Wednesday showed the gap had closed in November, the most recent month for which data was available, to $49.3 billion from $55.7 billion in October, representing an 11.5 percent decline. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been looking for a deficit of $54.3 billion.
The decline was largely due to a slide in imports, which fell 2.9 percent to $259.2 billion. Exports edged lower to $209.9 billion, a 0.6 percent drop.
In all, the year-to-date goods and services deficit increased by $51.9 billion, a 10.4 percent rise from the same period in 2017. Exports rose $157.1 billion or 7.3 percent, while imports gained $208.9 billion or 7.9 percent.