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US Unemployment Remains Low, Trade Gap Narrows

In this July 17, 2014 photo, construction workers build a commercial complex in Springfield, Illinois.

United States companies hired fewer workers than expected during the month of August, and July's U.S. trade deficit fell to its lowest level since January, reflecting a greater demand for U.S. exports.

The Labor Department says applications for jobless benefits rose to 302,000 last week, an increase of 4,000 from the previous week. But the number of those receiving unemployment aid last week was the lowest since June 2007.

The data was released ahead of the government's official report which comes out Friday.

Meanwhile, the Commerce Department reported the U.S. trade deficit fell 0.6 percent in July to $40.5 billion.

Exports of automobiles, parts, engines and industrial supplies increased 0.9 percent to $198 billion. Imports also rose 0.7 percent to $238.6 billion with added shipments of industrial supplies, cars and food.

Additionally, the Commerce Department report showed the trade deficit with China rose 2.7 percent to a $30.9 billion, which is a record monthly high.