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US deficit down to 10-year low

In February, the US trade deficit dropped to $26 billion, the lowest level since November 1999. Reeling from a recession since December 2007, the US has reduced its deficit by more than half since July last year, latest data showed.

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AFP - The US trade deficit fell more than expected in February to a nine-year low as a prolonged recession sliced imports, the Commerce Department said Thursday.

The deficit dropped for the seventh consecutive month -- by 28.3 percent to 26 billion dollars from a revised 36.2 billion dollars in January, the department said in its monthly trade report.

It was the lowest level since November 1999 and surprised most analysts who had expected the gap to shrink just to 36.5 billion dollars.

Reeling from a recession since December 2007, the United States has reduced its deficit by more than half since July last year, the latest data showed.

Exports particularly sprung back in February after six months of decline, increasing by 1.6 percent to 126.8 billion dollars comprising mostly consumer goods, automotive vehicles, foods, feeds and beverages.

Imports on the other hand continued to fall -- for the seventh consecutive month -- by 5.1 percent to 152.7 billion dollars.

The deficit with Canada, the top US trading partner, fell to a decade low -- to 1.8 billion dollars from 2.5 billion dollars in January, the department said.

The politically sensitive deficit with China fell to its lowest level since February 2006 -- to 14.2 billion dollars from 20.6 billion dollars in January.

Exports to China increased to 4.7 billion dollars while imports decreased to 18.9 billion dollars.

The deficit with Japan fell to a 25-year low at 2.2 billion dollars.

Meanwhile, US import prices rose in March for the first time after seven months of decline, gaining 0.5 percent from February, according to figures released by the Labor Department.

The increase is much less than expected by analysts, who projected a rebound in prices of 1.0 percent.

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