SMALLER DEFICIT: The U.S. trade deficit fell 11 percent to $38.8 billion in March as the daily flow of imported crude oil dropped to the lowest level in 17 years. The deficit with China hit a three-year low.
TWIN DECLINE: Exports fell 0.9 percent to $184.3 billion as sales of machinery, autos and farm products declined. Imports fell 2.8 percent to $223.1 billion, led by a 4.4 percent drop in foreign petroleum. Crude oil imports averaged just 7 million barrels per day, the lowest since March 1996.
THE OUTLOOK: A smaller trade gap can boost overall economic growth as American companies earn more from overseas sales while U.S. consumers and businesses spend less on foreign products.