For all of 2016, the deficit increased 0.4 percent to $502.3bn, including a wider annual gap with Mexico and a smaller one with China, Commerce Department figures show. The monthly shortfall shrank 3.2 percent to $44.3bn. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a deficit of $45bn in December.
While a bigger annual deficit reflects President Donald Trump’s concern that other nations are benefiting from jobs and manufacturing at America’s expense, an improving economy makes it tough to shrink the gap as steady U.S. consumer spending drives imports. December had the strongest monthly gain in exports in four years, while imports rose the most since June.
Bloomberg survey estimates for the December goods-and-services trade deficit ranged from $42bn to $46bn. The November gap was revised to $45.7bn from an initially reported $45.2bn. For all of last year, exports declined 2.3 percent, while imports fell 1.8 percent.
Exports in December increased 2.7 percent, the most since September 2012, to $190.7bn, on higher sales of commercial aircraft and industrial supplies, the Commerce Department data showed.
Timely, incisive articles delivered directly to your inbox.