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>This May Be The Only Good Number In This Recession


Trade deficit drops to $39.9B; lowest in 6 years

  • By MARTIN CRUTSINGER, AP Economics Writer Martin Crutsinger, Ap Economics Writer

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WASHINGTON – The U.S. trade deficit fell to the lowest level in nearly six years in December as the recession depressed demand for imports. The trade deficit in 2008 fell for a second straight year and economists expect an even bigger decline this year.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that the deficit in December fell 4 percent to $39.9 billion, from $41.6 billion in November. It was slightly higher than the $36 billion deficit economists expected.

For the year, the deficit shrank by 3.3 percent to $677.1 billion. It was the second straight annual decline after five straight years of record deficits.

The 2008 imbalance was the lowest annual total since 2004, and many economists believe the deficit for 2009 will be half the size of last year’s gap. However, the improvement is due to a painful recession that is cutting demand for imports of oil, autos and other foreign-made products. Read more