U.S. exports rose to their highest level on record in November, a seasonally adjusted $194.86 billion, while a drop in imports narrowed the trade gap to $34.25 billion, reports the Wall Street Journal.
The country's exports are up 5.2% from a year earlier, led by rising sales to China, Mexico and Canada. U.S. exports to China from January through November rose 8.7% compared with the same period a year earlier.
Exports to Canada, the nation's largest trading partner, were up 2.5% in the same period.
The Journal reports that the falling U.S. trade deficit in large part reflects rising domestic energy production. Rising domestic energy production also helps in other ways, by creating jobs, keeping a lid on gasoline costs and lowering production costs for energy-intensive firms. As a result, consumers have more to spend elsewhere and businesses are more competitive internationally.
The trade figures led many economists to sharply raise their forecasts for economic growth in the final quarter. Morgan Stanley MS -0.32% economists raised their estimate to an annualised 3.3% from an earlier forecast of a 2.4% pace. Macroeconomic Advisers boosted its fourth-quarter projection to a 3.5% rate from 2.6%.
Fourth-quarter growth at that pace, following a 4.1% annualised increase in the third quarter, would mark the fastest half-year growth stretch since the fourth quarter of 2011 and the first quarter of 2012.