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Fewer exports push trade deficit to highest level since 2008

August 11, 2011 |  9:06 am

Trade deficit
U.S. manufacturers are in a bind as fewer sales of domestic goods such as semiconductors and raw cotton caused the trade deficit to jump to its highest level since 2008, according to a Commerce Department report.

Foreign demand for U.S. goods still isn't enough of a buffer against what acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank called "a fragile time in the world economy."

Though imports shrank to $223.9 billion in June, exports of American products shriveled even more, down 2.3% to $170.9 billion -- the steepest fall in more than two years.

Fewer capital goods and industrial supplies and materials -– about $3.5 billion worth -– were shipped abroad. That includes heavy drops in exports of fuel oil, plastics, industrial engines and generators.

The trade deficit expanded 4.4% to $53.1 billion in June, from $50.8 billion in May, according to the Commerce Department. The figure is up $6.2 billion year over year to its highest point since October 2008.

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Photo: The Mearsk terminal in Long Beach. Credit: Perry C. Riddle / Los Angeles Times

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