The U.S. trade deficit grew larger in January as imports — including crude-oil prices — zoomed to all-time highs. The latest snapshot of...
WASHINGTON — The U.S. trade deficit grew larger in January as imports — including crude-oil prices — zoomed to all-time highs.
The latest snapshot of trade activity, reported by the Commerce Department on Tuesday, showed the country’s trade gap increased to $58.2 billion. That was up from a trade shortfall of $57.9 billion in December and was the highest since November.
Imports of goods and services climbed to a record high of $206.4 billion in January. The United States’ voracious appetite for imported crude oil, where prices skyrocketed to the loftiest on record, figured into the increasing demand for overall imports.
The trade gap widened even as exports of U.S.-made goods and services totaled a record high of $148.2 billion in January. The declining value of the U.S. dollar relative to other currencies, such as the euro, is helping to make U.S.-made goods cheaper and thus more attractive to foreign buyers.
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Economists were expecting the trade deficit in January to be a bit larger, about $59 billion. Still, rising energy prices are aggravating the nation’s trade situation.
The average price of imported crude oil soared to a record $84.09 a barrel in January. That pushed the country’s imported crude-oil bill to an all-time high of $27.1 billion in January.
The country’s trade deficit with oil-producing nations, including Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Nigeria, grew to $15.5 billion in January, up from $12.6 billion in December.
Oil prices on Tuesday closed at a record high of $108.75 a barrel. “The surge in oil prices to well above $100 [a barrel] will ensure that the oil deficit keeps widening in coming months,” said Nigel Gault, chief economist at Global Insight.
Meanwhile, the United States’ politically sensitive trade deficit with China widened to $20.3 billion in January, up from $18.8 billion in the previous month.
The U.S. trade deficit with Japan decreased slightly to $6.592 billion in January, from $6.593 billion in December. The trade deficit with Canada, however, increased to $5.9 billion, up from $4.7 billion.