Trade Gap in U.S. Widens as Exports Fall to Four-Year Low

The trade deficit widened in December as stable U.S. domestic demand supported imports while weaker growth abroad held back overseas sales.

The gap increased 2.7 percent to $43.4 billion from $42.2 billion in November, the Commerce Department reported Friday in Washington. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of 65 economists called for a deficit of $43.2 billion.

Estimates in the Bloomberg survey ranged from trade gaps of $40 billion to $46.2 billion.

For all of 2015, the trade gap widened 4.6 percent to $531.5 billion, the biggest since 2012. The U.S. petroleum deficit, adjusted for changes in prices, was the lowest ever.

China last year became the largest goods trading partner with the U.S., while Canada dropped to second. The value of combined exports and imports with China was $598.1 billion in

2015.

After eliminating the effects of price fluctuations, which generates the numbers used to calculate GDP, the trade deficit widened to $60.3 billion in December from $59.2 billion a month earlier.

Imports increased 0.3 percent, while exports decreased 0.3 percent to $181.5 billion in December, the weakest since January

2012.

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