US trade with other countries improved. The gap between imports and exports fell 1 percent to $58.2 billion in November, the Commerce Department said today in Washington. Crude oil imports declined, partly reflecting warmer winter weather, and the trade shortfall with China retreated from an all-time high.

Overseas demand for U.S.-made planes, cars and telecommunications equipment increased after last year’s slide in the value of the dollar made American goods cheaper. A narrower deficit will probably add to the U.S. economic expansion, softening the impact of slowdowns in housing and manufacturing.

US exports rose 0.9 percent to $124.8 billion.

Total imports of goods and services rose 0.3 percent in November to $183 billion. Imports of consumer goods rose to $39.1 million from $38.2 billion, reflecting increased demand for toys, televisions and clothing.

November imports were restrained by a drop in demand for petroleum. Oil imports declined to $21.5 billion, the lowest since July 2005.

The gap with China narrowed to $22.9 from $24.4 billion in October.

In the first 11 months of 2006 the deficit with China surged to $213.5 billion, representing almost 30 percent of the total U.S. shortfall, from $185.3 billion in the same time a year earlier.

U.S. congressional leaders and manufacturers have criticized China for keeping its currency, the yuan, undervalued to promote sales overseas.


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