The U.S. trade deficit improved slightly in December, but the deficit for the whole year was still the worst since 2012.
The gap between what the U.S. buys from overseas and what Americans sell to foreign markets was just over $44 billion for December. That was a little better than the previous month but the total for 2016 was just over $502 billion.
During his presidential campaign, President Donald Trump blamed bad trade deals for millions of lost jobs in U.S. manufacturing. Experts say trade plays a role in declining factory jobs, but they also say the strong U.S. dollar means American-made goods are more expensive on global markets. That makes them harder to sell, and also makes imported good cheaper for U.S. buyers.
Trump pulled the United States out of a major Pacific trade pact and wants to re-negotiate a free trade deal with Mexico and Canada.
Next week the head of the U.S. central bank will give an updated assessment of the economy to key committees of the U.S. Congress. Other experts will publish fresh data on inflation, retail sales, and the housing market.
Some material for this story came from AP and Reuters.