The U.S. trade deficit hit a six-month high in December, as growth in consumer demand and business investment caused imports to rise faster than exports.
The Commerce Department said the U.S. deficit in trade of goods and services increased to $48.8 billion, the largest imbalance since June.
Exports rose 0.7 percent from November. Imports rose by 1.3 percent, boosted by rising oil prices and imports of aircraft, semiconductors and autos and parts.
Auto parts imports have been a bright spot for containerized imports as imports volume rose 22.8 percent last year to 630,784 20-foot-equivalent units, according to Journal of Commerce sister company PIERS.
Capital and consumer goods imports also rose last year, reflecting recovering demand as consumer spending revives and businesses rebuild inventories and replace equipment.
For all of 2011, the U.S. deficit rose to $558 billion, its highest level since 2008, as both exports and imports hit record levels. Exports rose 14.5 percent to $2.1 trillion and imports increased 13.8 percent to $2.66 trillion.
The increase in exports was close to the 15 percent annual rate needed to achieve President Obama’s goal of doubling U.S. exports between the depressed levels of 2010 to 2015. The value of U.S. exports rose 16.7 percent last year.
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