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US trade gap shrinks to $38.5B, lowest in 3 years, on drop in oil imports, higher exports .

The U.S. trade deficit narrowed sharply in December because oil imports plummeted and total exports rose. The smaller trade gap means the economy likely performed better in the final three months of last year than first estimated last week.

The Commerce Department says the trade deficit fell nearly 21 percent in December, to $38.6 billion, the smallest in nearly three years.

Exports rose 2.1 percent to $186.4 billion. Exports of oil and other petroleum products rose to the highest level on record.

Imports shrank 2.7 percent to $224.9 billion. Oil imports plunged to 223 billion barrels, the lowest since February 1997.

A narrower trade gap boosts growth because it means U.S. companies earned more from overseas sales while consumers and businesses spent less on foreign products.

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Loan Type Graph Rate +/- Last Week
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15 Y Fixed Graph 3.27% up 3.25%  
30 Y Fixed Jumbo Graph 4.63% up 4.61%  
5/1 ARM Graph 3.51% up 3.38%  
5/1 Jumbo ARM Graph 3.74% up 3.68%  
Loan Type Graph Rate +/- Last Week
$30K HELOC Graph 4.29% -- 4.29%  
$50K HELOC Graph 4.04% -- 4.04%  
$30K Loan Graph 5.09% up 5.08%  
$50K Loan Graph 4.52% -- 4.52%  
$75K Loan Graph 4.52% -- 4.52%  
Loan Type Graph Rate +/- Last Week
36 M New Graph 2.93% -- 2.93%  
36 M Used Graph 3.47% -- 3.47%  
48 M New Graph 3.22% -- 3.22%  
48 M Used Graph 2.98% -- 2.98%  
60 M New Graph 3.24% -- 3.24%  
Loan Type Graph Yield +/- Last Week
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1 yr Graph 0.69% up 0.68%  
5 yr Graph 1.39% -- 1.39%