WASHINGTON – The deficit in the nation's broadest measure of trade narrowed in the third quarter to the lowest level since mid-2015.
The Commerce Department said Thursday that the current account trade deficit fell to $113 billion from July through September, down from $118.3 billion in the April-June period. The third-quarter deficit was the lowest since the second quarter of 2015 when it came in at $111.9 billion.
The current account is the broadest measure of trade because it covers not only trade in goods but also services and investment flows. Economists watch the figure closely because it indicates how much the United States needs to borrow from foreigners.
The third-quarter gap was equal to 2.4 percent of the overall U.S. economy, down from 2.6 percent in the second quarter.
America's trade deficit emerged as a potent issue in the U.S. election. President-elect Donald Trump says the United States runs big trade deficits because other countries resort to unfair trade practices such as manipulating their currencies lower to give their companies a price advantage.
Trump has threatened to impose taxes on Chinese and Mexican imports and to tear up what he calls defective trade pacts, including the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada.