The U.S. trade deficit rose in the last month of last year to bring the rise in the annual trade gap for 2010 to the highest rate in more than a decade, according to Reuters. On Friday, the Commerce Department reported that the trade deficit grew by 6% in December to $40.6 billion, which was just above economists forecast and market the highest level in four months. The increase was led by the highest level of imports in over two years on stronger consumer and business activity, although exports were also at the highest level in more than two years.
Robert Dye of PNC Financial Services said the widening gap might normally be seen as a negative indicator that would drag on overall output, but he added, I see it more as a sign of stronger consumer health. Improving economic conditions suggest to Dye that there could be a moderate widening trend in the coming months. The data also showed that U.S. exports to China reached a record of $10.1 billion in December, moving to another record of $91.9 billion for 2010 as a whole, although the deficit with that country was also a record at $364.9 billion for the year.