WASHINGTON - The US trade gap fell in August to its lowest level in nearly a year as exports of services, including travel and finance, hit record highs, official data showed Thursday.
Imports of goods also fell, partly driven lower as a weak US dollar pushed up prices.
By reversing July's increase, the August dip in the trade deficit could support GDP growth in the third quarter.
President Donald Trump has taken an aggressive stance on trade, vowing to reduce or eliminate bilateral deficits, launching talks to renegotiate trade pacts and investigate foreign trade practices.
The August trade gap fell 2.7 percent to $42.4 billion, its lowest level since September of last year. Analysts had been expecting a smaller 2.3 percent decrease.
Year-to-date, however, the trade deficit has risen faster than it did over the same period last year, increasing by $29.1 billion, or 8.8 percent, over the first eight months of 2016.
Exports rose 0.4 percent for the month to $195.3 billion, the highest level in nearly three years. Imports fell 0.1 percent to $237.7 billion, the lowest level since March.
Exports of services, including travel and financial services, hit their highest level on record, reaching $66.1 billion.
US exports of goods also were also at a two-year record at $129.7 billion, driven higher by surging exports of capital goods and non-petroleum goods.