US trade deficit soars 33% in 2010 as China imports hit record level

Feb 11, 2011 12:00 AM

The US trade deficit widened in December 2010 to its highest level in 4 months, the US government said in a report that also showed the annual trade gap expanded nearly 33% in 2010 as imports from China hit record levels. Exports were the highest since July 2008. The December 2010 trade deficit grew nearly 6% to $ 40.6 bn, just slightly higher than a consensus estimate of Wall Street analysts as the average price for imported oil leapt to its highest level since October 2008. Overall imports of goods and services were also their highest since October 2008, in a sign that consumers and businesses are spending more as the US economy picks up steam.

Exports of goods and services were the highest since July 2008, the month that they hit their peak before beginning a precipitous drop caused by the global financial crisis. US goods exports to China grew to a record $ 10.1 bn in December and also were a record $ 91.9 bn for the year. But that strong finish was swamped by record US imports from China of 364.9 bn for the entire year, which pushed the closely watched trade gap with that country to a record $ 273.1 bn.

Rising oil prices also helped widen the US trade deficit in 2010. The average price for imported oil jumped to $ 74.66 pb, from $ 56.93 in 2009. Imports of consumer goods and foods, feeds and beverages also set records in 2010.
Overall, US imports of goods and services grew 19.7% in 2010 to $ 2.33 tn.
US exports grew 16.6% to $ 1.83 tn, a pace that if maintained would allow the US to reach President Barack Obama's goal of doubling exports by 2013. US exports of services, industrial supplies, consumer goods and petroleum all set records. The strong services performance pushed the US trade surplus for services to a record $ 148.7 bn in 2010.

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