US trade deficit widens 16% to hit $48.7 billion

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US Commerce Department says the country’s trade deficit widened by 16 percent to reach USD48.7 billion in November 2012 after a rise in the imports of consumer goods.

The department said on Friday that the US deficit in international trade of goods and services, excluding petroleum transactions, was the highest in more than five years.

Falling oil prices were expected to shrink the deficit, but a decline in crude prices was outpaced by other purchases.

US imports increased 3.8 percent to USD231.28 billion, while the biggest gains were in consumer goods. Purchases of cellphones and other related goods increased more than 27 percent and pharmaceutical purchases rose almost 20 percent from October.

In November, the inflation-adjusted deficit, which economists use to measure the impact of trade on gross domestic product, hit a record-high since 2008, expanding to USD51.91 billion from USD46.01 billion the month before.

The US goods trade gap with China fell 1.7 percent from October with a drop in exports outweighing a slighter fall in imports.

Imports surged 4.1 percent from the European Union, and were up 6.4 percent from Germany. Overall, seasonally adjusted exports rose one percent.

The US Federal Reserves said last month that it would start pumping more money into the financial system to drive down long-term interest rates and encourage borrowing, spending and investing.

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