The U.S. trade deficit fell for the sixth straight month in January,
according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. The trade imbalance --
the difference between imports and exports -- dropped to $36 billion, a
decline of 9.7 percent from December and the lowest monthly trade gap
in six years. Imports dropped 6.7 percent to $160.9 billion; exports
fell 5.7 percent to $124.9 billion. Industry analysts say the narrowing
gap is not due to the ideal situation, which would have the U.S.
exporting more goods and importing fewer, but due to an
across-the-board decline in the demand for imported goods and the
continuing drop in the price of crude oil. Economist Joshua Shapiro,
quoted in The New York Times, predicts that the decline will
continue to narrow in a prolonged economic crisis: "It will not
represent good news to trading partners who have much spare capacity
that had been used to produce mountains of products for the U.S.
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