U.S. exports in June reached an all-time high of $191.2 billion, helping to narrow the trade deficit by 22 percent from May to $34.4 billion and possibly boost estimates for second quarter growth, according to figures from the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis.
The trade gap is the lowest it's been since the fall of 2009.
The previous monthly record for exports was $188.7 billion set in December. The June export level is also 2.2 percent higher than in May.
The United States imported $225.4 billion worth of goods and services in June, $5.8 billion less than in May.
In June, the goods deficit decreased $9.7 billion from May to $53.2 billion and the services surplus was essentially flat. The month-over-month increase in exports and decrease in imports was almost entirely from the goods sector, with exports totaling $134.3 billion and imports at $187.4 billion.
On an annual basis, the trade deficit decreased $8.2 billion. From May to June, the trade gap narrowed by $10 billion.
The U.S. economy grew 1.7 percent in the second quarter, according to the BEA's initial estimate, but the sharp reduction in the trade deficit could lead the agency to revise its estimate upward by several points, according to economists.
The biggest decrease in imports was in fuel oil and petroleum products, a further sign that stepped up domestic production of shale oil is decreasing the nation's appetite for foreign oil.
Exports of goods and services during the past year totaled $2.2 trillion, 41.5 percent above the export levels in 2009. Exports have been growing at an annualized rate of 10.4 percent when compared to the same period in 2009, although not fast enough to achieve President Obama's stretch goal of doubling exports by the end of 2015. This week's closure of 19 U.S. embassies in the Middle East and Europe as a precaution against terrorist threats could effect U.S. exports in coming months because one of the main jobs of the diplomatic staff is helping to promote U.S. products and connecting local buyers with U.S. sellers. - Eric Kulisch