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DJ U.S. Trade Deficit Narrowed in December as Exports Outpaced Imports--Update

· 02/05/2021 09:20
By Yuka Hayashi

WASHINGTON -- U.S. exports and imports both rose in December as global commerce picked up toward the end of 2020 following a steep decline caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Exports rose 3.4% in December from a month earlier to $190 billion, while imports increased 1.5% to 256.6 billion, the Commerce Department said Friday. The deficit narrowed to $66.6 billion from a revised $69.01 billion in November. The figures were adjusted for seasonal variations.

For all of 2020, the U.S. trade deficit in goods and services widened by 17.7% to $678.7 billion. Exports fell by 15.7%, outpacing a 9.5% decline in imports.

Trade has recovered as the U.S. and global economies rebounded from the nadir following the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic early in 2020. Imports to the U.S. have grown faster than exports as Americans spent their stimulus payments on automobiles, computers for work at home and other goods made overseas.

Global commerce is likely to expand further this year as the recovery is aided by low interest rates, government stimulus spending and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines. The International Monetary Fund projects global output to grow by 5.5% this year, following an estimated contraction of 3.5% in 2020.

Consumer demand in the U.S. is likely to get a boost from another round of stimulus payments following the $600 checks most Americans got in January. Early Friday, the Senate approved a budget plan for President Biden's $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package, which includes $1,400 stimulus payments.

The IMF forecasts 5.1% growth for the U.S. following a 2.1% contraction last year. IMF economists say growth could be even stronger than its latest official projection if the government implements a large stimulus package.

IHS Markit, a research firm, predicts the value of global trade will rise by 7.6% in 2021 and another 5.2% in 2022. "This will allow the global economy and in particular the transport community to regain momentum and to recoup some of the losses from the trade collapse of 2020," said Tomasz Brodzicki, a maritime and trade economist for the company.

Write to Yuka Hayashi at yuka.hayashi@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 05, 2021 09:20 ET (14:20 GMT)

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