Dec. 12, 2006 -- Cheaper oil prices helped shrink the U.S. trade deficit by 8.4 percent to $58.9 billion in October, the sharpest decline in nearly five years, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday.

Despite the decline, which was driven by a 17.1 percent drop in the nation's monthly oil bill, the trade gap with China rose by 6.1 percent to a record-high $24.4 billion, reflecting a surge in demand for computers, video games, and other electronics from holiday shoppers, the report said.

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Published on: Dec 12, 2006