US trade deficit falls to near two-year low

A cargo container being unloaded
Image caption Exports and imports both rose during September

The US trade deficit has fallen to its lowest level in almost two years, as exports reached an all-time high, official figures have shown.

The deficit in goods and services narrowed to $41.5bn (£26bn) in September, raising hopes of increased strength in the US economy.

The figure was 5.1% lower than August's $43.8bn deficit and the lowest since December 2010.

Exports rose 3.1% to $187bn, driven by sales of aircraft and heavy machinery.

Imports also increased in September, rising 1.5% to $228.5bn, led by consumer goods, clothing and toys.

The trade deficit with China widened to $29.1bn, from $28.7bn in August, the latest monthly data from the Commerce Department showed.

Recent figures from the US have suggested that the economy is picking up speed.

The trade data comes a week after the closely-watched Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index showed that sentiment among US shoppers had risen to a five-year high.

Meanwhile, the most recent official figures showed that the US economy expanded at an annualised rate of 2% in the three months to the end of September, more than had been expected.

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