London: The US trade gap with the rest of the world fell to 38.5 billion dollars in December, a near three-year low, the Commerce Department has said.
The department said that record overseas sales of petroleum pushed up exports, while imports dropped.
According to the BBC, crude oil imports fell to the lowest level since 1997 during 2012 as a whole.
The data suggests that the US economy was stronger in the fourth quarter than initially estimated.
Chris Williamson, chief economist at financial information firm Markit, said that the economy did not fare as badly as the initial GDP estimate suggested in the fourth quarter.
He said that ‘the data also add to an increasingly bright picture of the global economy at the turn of the year’.
According to the report, total exports rose to 186.4 billion dollars, up by 3.9 billion dollars from November.
The department said that imports fell by 6.2 billion to 224.9 billion dollars, as less overseas crude oil was bought.
However, during 2012 the US trade gap with China increased to 315 billion dollars, the largest on record with any country, the report added.