The U.S. trade deficit swelled to another record high in October, as the gap between exports and imports with China posted a sharp increase, developments that will no doubt ring new alarm bells about the nation's long-term economic health.
The government said the deficit in goods and services rose to $55.5 billion, up from $50.9 billion in September. Economists were expecting a $52.8 billion shortfall.
The October figures do not reflect the latest leg in the dollar's two-year swoon or the steep correction in oil prices in November and December.The data, however, caused a brief decline in the U.S. currency and added to early losses in the Treasury market.
Exports rose $0.6 billion to $98.1 billion, while imports climbed $5.1 billion to $153.5 billion. Both were record highs. The increase in imports was led by industrialsupplies and materials as well as consumer goods. Services exports increased $0.4 billion, led by travel and transportation.
The deficit with China jumped to $16.8 billion, vs. $15.5 billion in September. The U.S. has been pressuring China to revalue its currency, which has a fixed rate against the dollar and is seen as unjustifiably weak. The gap with Japan decreased to $5.9 billion from $6.1 billion a month earlier. The deficit with the European Union hit $9.3 billion, vs. $7.7 billion in September.