Washington The U.S. trade deficit fell to $35.1 billion in October, the best showing in seven months, although much of the gain was attributed to the West Coast labor dispute, which sharply trimmed the level of imports.
The Commerce Department reported that the imbalance between what America sells abroad and what it imports decreased by 5.5 percent from the September deficit of $37.1 billion.
The September deficit and an August imbalance of $38.1 billion had been the two highest monthly trade deficits on record as shippers rushed to get goods into the country ahead of the deadline for resolving the dock workers' labor dispute.
The brief lockout, which disrupted shipments in early October before President Bush used federal law to get dock workers back on the job, cut into both imports and exports.
Even with the improvement, the trade deficit for the year is running at an annual rate of $420 billion, a record and 17 percent higher than last year's trade deficit of $358.3 billion.