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U.S. trade gap shrinks 13% in July to $44.8 bln *PIC*

U.S. trade gap shrinks 13% in July to $44.8 bln (by Steve Goldstein)

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- The trade deficit the United States runs with the rest of the world shrank in July, according to data released Thursday, as record exports helped offset the largest trade gap with China in 10 months. The Commerce Department said the trade deficit narrowed to a seasonally adjusted $44.8 billion in July from $51.6 billion last month, a decline of 13.1%, which marks the biggest percentage decline since February 2009. Economists polled by MarketWatch had expected a $51 billion trade gap. Downward revisions to April, May and June trade deficits could mean the final reading of second-quarter gross domestic product being revised upward from 1%. The $6.2 billion increase in exports in July was led by industrial supplies and materials, capital goods and the highest-ever export of automotive vehicles, parts and engines, while imports fell marginally as less petroleum was used.