America’s merchandise trade deficit widened to $61.5 billion in December from $60.3 billion the prior month, advanced data issued by the Commerce Department showed Friday.
The 2 percent widening from November helped shape the government’s estimate of fourth-quarter gross domestic product also issued Friday. The December deficit was bigger than the median forecast of $60 billion based on estimates from 32 economists in a Bloomberg survey.
Advance reports on monthly international goods-only trade allow Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis to incorporate three months of official trade data into its first estimate of quarterly GDP. Previously, the BEA had two complete months of trade figures for goods and services to calculate its first estimate of GDP, prompting it to project the data for the final month of a quarter.
The monthly statistics on goods are released four to seven days before the more complete report on international trade that includes services. Data on the December trade balance in both goods and services are scheduled to be released Feb. 5.
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