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Washington (AFP) – The U.S. international trade deficit shrank sharply in November to a four-year low on record exports and a drop in imports, government data released Tuesday showed.

The trade shortfall narrowed for the second month in a row, to $34.3 billion in November, the smallest gap since September 2009, the Commerce Department said.

The 12.9 percent monthly decline in the nation’s chronic deficit in goods and services with the rest of the world was much steeper than expected. The average analyst estimate was for a deficit of $40.4 billion.

The department revised the October figure to $39.3 billion from the prior estimate of $40.6 billion.

November exports rose 0.9 percent to a record $194.9 billion.

Imports fell 1.4 percent to $229.1 billion amid a decline in oil prices.

Imports of crude oil, which represent about 10 percent of total imports, dropped 10.8 percent in November to $21.4 billion.

Imports of automobiles, however, continued to rise, reaching a record $27.2 billion, the department said.

“Some of the improvement represented prices rather than volumes but the real (inflation-adjusted) data were also positive,” Jim O’Sullivan of HFE Economics said in a research note.

“The data look consistent with net exports adding at least a point to Q4 real GDP growth,” he said.

The November deficit was 26.1 percent less than November 2012. Exports were 5.2 percent higher and imports 1.1 percent lower.

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Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel, and a memoir.

Cruel as this may sound, I'm having a hard time cringing at the internet trolls now going after noisy right-wingers who propagandized against the coronavirus vaccine and then succumbed to the deadly disease.

One was Nick Bledsoe, a car mechanic in Opelika, Alabama. Bledsoe achieved minor celebrity opposing public efforts to contain COVID-19. He petitioned against school mask mandates and turned refusal to get shots into a political statement, negatively linking them to President Joe Biden. Bledsoe died of COVID at age 41, leaving a wife and four children.

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