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U.S. trade deficit rose 17.7%

UPDATED: Fri., Feb. 5, 2021

WASHINGTON – The U.S. trade deficit rose 17.7% last year to $679 billion, highest since 2008, as the coronavirus disrupted global commerce and confounded then-President Donald Trump’s attempts to rebalance America’s trade with the rest of the world.

The gap between the value of the goods and services the United States sells abroad and what it buys climbed from $577 billion in 2019, the Commerce Department said Friday. Exports skidded 15.7% to $2.1 trillion, and imports fell 9.5% to $2.8 trillion.

As president, Trump sought to narrow the gap by imposing taxes on imported goods on a scale unseen since the trade wars of the 1930s. The deficit narrowed slightly in 2019 but then ballooned last year as coronavirus restrictions hammered U.S. exports of services such as tourism and education.

Supply shortage drives oil prices

Oil rose toward $60 a barrel in London as global supplies tighten while the demand outlook improves with the rollout of coronavirus vaccines.

Brent climbed for a sixth day, pushing to its highest intraday level since February 2020, before coming off session highs as broader markets pare gains. Crude stockpiles tied to oil futures in China fell to the lowest since June 2020, according to data analytics company OilX, the latest sign of ebbing inventories in the world’s largest importer.

The recent rally is being backed by a surge of interest in commodities. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies have pledged to keep draining a virus-driven surplus and there are expectations that the global economy will recover this year, raising forecasts for stronger oil demand. Investor holdings of West Texas Intermediate futures have soared to the highest since 2018.

From wire reports

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