Exports grew in 2010, but trade deficit widened The U.S. trade deficit grew in December to its highest level in four months and jumped 33 percent in 2010 as imports from China jumped to record levels.

The government announced Friday the December trade deficit increased nearly 6 percent from November to $40.6 billion, slightly above the average estimate of economists. The report paints both a positive and negative view of the U.S. economy: While imports hit highs not seen since October 2008 - an indication that consumers and businesses are spending more money - there is still a $273.1 billion trade imbalance between the world's two biggest economies.

Exports of goods and services, however, were at their highest since July 2008 as U.S. manufacturers continue to remain competitive on the global stage. In December, U.S. exports of goods to China jumped to a record $10.1 billion; for the year, U.S. companies exported $91.9 billion in goods to the Asian giant.

The trade deficit in 2010 was fueled by rising oil prices, which surged from an average of $56.93 per barrel in 2009 to an average of $74.66 per barrel in 2010. Exports grew 16.6 percent to $1.83 trillion, helping to contribute to President Obama's goal of doubling exports by 2013.  
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