Breathing A Bit Easier

A reduced trade deficit heartens the markets, but the gap is still huge

The suspense in the world's stock and currency exchanges last week was almost palpable. Share prices gyrated, and the value of the dollar fluctuated fitfully, but none of the financial markets moved with any conviction. Traders seemed practically paralyzed by the knowledge that on Friday the Commerce Department would release the U.S. trade statistics for November. There was good reason for their concern. Three months earlier a worse than expected trade-deficit figure helped send the stock market into a slide that culminated in the great crash of Oct. 19. And in mid-December the announcement of a sharp jump in the trade...

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