WASHINGTON — The U.S. international trade deficit increased to a seasonally adjusted $40.6 billion in December, the largest increase in four months, while trade in 2010 revived as exports and imports increased by a record dollar amount, the Commerce Department reported Friday.
The deficit increased 9.4% from an unrevised $38.3 billion in November. It was the largest monthly increase since August.
Exports increased by $2.8 billion, or 1.8%, in December and have increased for four straight months.
Exports of industrial supplies and capital goods both increased to the highest levels since August 2008. Total non-petroleum exports were the highest since July 2008.
Imports increased by $5.1 billion, or 2.6%.
A resurgent demand for foreign goods, which increased to $168 billion — the highest since October 2008 — pushed imports higher. Total imports have increased for three consecutive months.
Imports of petroleum, which languished over the last two years amid the economic downturn, increased to their highest level since October 2008.
Additionally, the average price of an imported barrel of crude oil in December was $79.78 — the highest price since October 2008, when it was $91.73. The average price of imported oil has steadily increased from a low of $39.14 per barrel reached in February 2009.
Economists had expected a $40.5 billion December trade deficit, according to the median estimate from Thomson Reuters.