US trade gap widens 12% in December to $49b

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The US trade deficit widened sharply in December as exports slumped amid a slowing global economy, government data released on Thursday showed.

The nation's trade gap rose to US$38.7 billion (S$49.07 billion) in December, a 12 per cent increase from November's upwardly revised US$34.6 billion level, the Commerce Department said.

The December increase came in well above the average analyst estimate of US$36 billion. The prior November estimate was US$34.3 billion.

Exports tumbled 1.8 per cent in December to US$191.3 billion, and imports edged up 0.3 per cent, to US$230.0 billion.