U.S. trade deficit widens in November as imports surge

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WASHINGTON, Jan. 6 (Xinhua) — The U.S. trade deficit widened sharply to 80.2 billion U.S. dollars in November as imports surged, the U.S. Commerce Department reported on Thursday.

U.S. exports rose by 0.2 percent to 224.2 billion dollars in November while imports rose by 4.6 percent to 304.4 billion dollars. The goods and services deficit rose by 19.4 percent from a revised 67.2 billion dollars in the previous month, according to the department.

“Strong imports continue to reflect the more robust recovery in the United States, but are also a sign of incremental improvement in easing supply chain constraints,” Tim Quinlan and Shannon Seery, economists at Wells Fargo Securities, said Thursday in an analysis, noting U.S. imports of semiconductors rose by the most in eight months.

“The trade data have been particularly volatile in recent months, and November’s data suggest net exports will now be a drag on growth for the sixth consecutive quarter” in the fourth quarter of 2021, the economists said.

The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 2.3 percent in the third quarter of 2021, lower than a pace of 6.7 percent in the previous quarter, due to the Delta variant-fueled COVID-19 surge and the decline in government support.

The Omicron variant has the potential to drag on U.S. economic growth in 2022, as the Delta variant did in 2021, analysts said.