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Economic Report: U.S. trade deficit jumps 9.4% to record $89.7 billion on surge in imports and rising prices

The numbers: The nation’s trade deficit climbed 9.4% in January to a record $89.7 billion as the U.S. bought more foreign oil, autos and other goods. High prices due to soaring inflation also played a role.

The deficit rose from a revised $81.9 billion in December.

Last year, the U.S. posted the highest trade deficit ever. The record gap mostly stemmed from the U.S. recovering faster than other countries. Imports have surged while the growth in American exports has lagged behind.

Key details: U.S. imports rose 1.2% in January to a record $314.1 billion. Imports have topped $300 billion for three months in a row for the first time ever.

Exports of U.S.-made goods dipped 1.7% to $224.4 billion.

The surge in the trade deficit over the past several months partly reflects U.S. ports trying to clear a backlog of goods that have piled up in nearby warehouses or on ships waiting to unload.

Big picture: The U.S. has run large deficits for years and there’s little sign the trend is going to reverse anytime soon. The American economy is still outpacing the rest of the world and the Russian war on Ukraine threatens to delay a full global recovery.

The trade deficit is likely to remain at or near record levels until the rest of the works catches up to the U.S. and buys more American-made products and services.

Market reaction: The Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA,
-2.37%

and S&P 500
SPX,
-2.95%

were set to slightly lower in Tuesday trades. Stocks have fallen sharply since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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