US trade deficit hits 18-month low

The U.S. trade deficit in June hit its lowest level since December 2010, the Commerce Department said Thursday, as the gap between the nation's exports and its imports from abroad narrowed to $42.9 billion.

The numbers are good news for the Obama administration, which has come under attack from Mitt Romney for being “soft” on China, the main driver of the U.S. trade deficit. The Republican presidential candidate has vowed to designate China a currency manipulator on his first day in office.

The trend was fueled by a record high in exports, which reached $185 billion thanks to spikes in sales of consumer goods, automobiles and and industrial supplies and material. U.S. sales of food and beverages abroad were down by $800 million, however.

Imports of goods and services fell to $227.9 billion, down from $231.4 billion in May, driven in large part by falling oil prices.