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U.S. trade deficit up nearly 10% to $36.4 billion in November

January 12, 2010 |  9:44 am


The U.S. trade deficit shot up nearly 10% to $36.4 billion in November, hitting a 10-month high, the Department of Commerce said today.

Demand for imports is growing, as the nation’s economy slowly gets back on its feet. Imports totaled $174.6 billion, a 2.6% jump. But exports also rose for the seventh straight month with the help of the feeble dollar, increasing 0.9% to $138.2 billion.

The deficit soared 9.7% from October’s $33.2 billion, said the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis through the Department of Commerce.

“Today’s numbers are a welcome sign of economic growth and increasing consumer demand,” Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said in a statement. “As we enter 2010, we are exploring new export opportunities and educating companies on the benefits of incorporating new markets to continue to boost exports and create jobs for Americans.”

Imports of industrial supplies and materials climbed $2.1 billion between October and November, while consumer goods grew $1.4 billion and capital goods went up $1.2 billion. A boost in cargo volume seems to be positioning ports around the country for a strong recovery, according to a story in today's Times.

The 245 million barrels of crude oil imported in November was the lowest amount since the 234 million barrels imported in February 1999. Food and beverage and automotive sector imports were also down.

But shipments from those two industries increased, while exports of consumer goods tumbled $700 million and $400 million for industrial machinery. At $8.6 billion, November's exports of autos and parts was the highest since the $9.2 billion recorded in November.

The U.S. deficit with China, its largest with any country, dropped 10.8% to $20.2 billion.

The deficit with the European Union rose 30.5% to $6.4 billion, while the deficit with Mexico jumped 12.8% to $5.1 billion. The deficit with Canada plunged 32.1% to $1.4 billion.

-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: A shipment of Utah hay headed for cattle in Japan is unloaded at Los Angeles Grain Terminal in Long Beach. Credit: Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times.