The numbers: The U.S. trade gap widened to $80.2 billion in November from a revised $67.2 billion in the prior month, the Commerce Department said Thursday. The deficit is just shy of the record $81.4 billion set in September.
The U.S. is on track to post its biggest annual trade deficit. The final December figures are reported next month.
Key details: Imports into the U.S. surged 4.6% to $304.4 billion in November. Companies rushed to retrieve imported goods in time for the holiday shopping season.
U.S. exports inched up 0.2% to $224.4 billion.
Adjusted for inflation, the real goods deficit widened $13.7 billion to $110.8 billion in November.
Big picture: The chief reason for the surge in the deficit is that the U.S. economy rebounded more quickly from the pandemic than other countries. Aided by stimulus money, Americans could afford to buy more imports. And U.S. exports lagged.
The economy is still growing steadily and has exceeded pre-pandemic levels, but it faces a fresh challenge from soaring omicron cases in the U.S. and elsewhere. The virus could disrupt global trade again and set back effort to clear up the congestion at West Coast ports.
What are they saying? “Looking ahead, we expect the trade deficit to remain historically elevated until pandemic worries ease. Rising covid cases abroad once again threaten to constrain global demand, risking an even wider deficit if export growth slows more than imports,” said Nancy Vanden Houten, economist at Oxford Economics.
Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA,