The following appeared in the Saturday May 10, 2008 issue of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Page 2C.
The U.S. trade deficit narrowed sharply in March as demand for imports ell by the largest amount since the last recession was ending. Analysts forecast that trade would continue to be one of the economy's few bright spots this year.
The March deficit totaled $58.2 billion, down 5.7 percent from February, the Commerce Department reported Friday. It was a much larger improvement than had been expected.
Imports totaled $206.7 billion in March, down $6.1 billion from the February level, a drop led by a 5.9 percent decrease in America's foreign oil bill.
Exports, which have been one of the few strong points in this period of weakness, dipped 1.7 percent in March to $148.5 billion, but that was still the second-highest level on record. For the first three months of this year, exports were up 17.6 percent over the same period a year ago.