After declining for four straight months, the U.S. trade deficit widened in November, bringing the trade gap up to its highest level since June.
The nation’s trade deficit widened 10.4% in November to $47.8 billion, the Commerce Department said. This is the largest increase since May.
Exports fell 0.9% to $177.8 billion in November, the second straight drop after hitting a record high in September. Imports rose 1.3% to $189.7 billion in November. Imports have been treading water after hitting $226.2 billion in May.
Analysts surveyed by MarketWatch had expected a deficit of $43.6 billion.
The sharp increase in the deficit could cut the government’s estimate of fourth-quarter growth.
A higher deficit subtracts from growth because Americans are buying more foreign goods.
Economists now estimate that the economy grew at a 3.2% annual rate in the fourth quarter, up from a 1.8% growth rate in the third quarter. The government will release its first estimate of fourth-quarter growth later this month.
Import prices fell 0.1% in December, the fourth fall in five months, the Labor Department said Friday. Economists polled by MarketWatch had anticipated a 0.2% gain. November prices were revised to show a 0.8% gain from an initially reported 0.7% advance. Excluding fuel and food, prices rose 0.1% in December. For all of 2011, import prices rose 5.3%, the third year in a row they have increased.
JPMorgan Chase & Co’s fourth-quarter earnings fell 23 percent, in line with Wall Street expectations, as the European debt crisis depressed trading and corporate deal-making.
But Chief Executive Jamie Dimon said the largest U.S. bank by assets was seeing signs of improvement in loan demand and credit quality as the economy recovers.
The bank’s shares fell 2.9 percent in premarket trading. Through Thursday, the shares had climbed 11 percent this year.
JPMorgan is the first major U.S. bank to announce results for the period. Its figures show Wall Street firms such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc and Morgan Stanley are in for a tough quarter as investment banking results suffer.
Others such as Bank of America Corp and Citigroup Inc, which also report results in the coming days, could benefit from the stronger business loan demand that JPMorgan experienced, but they continue to face problems in investment banking and housing loans.
Shutterfly said its financial chief was departing to “pursue a personal passion” with a medical technology company, saying its chief executive and top accounting executive would split his duties until it names a successor. Shares were down 5.9% at $22.65 in after-hours trading.
JDA Software issued a cautious fourth-quarter revenue view Thursday as the supply-chain company’s software and subscription revenue declined in the Americas. Shares dropped 12% to $28.80 after hours on the weak top-line figure.
Metabolix tumbled 38% to $3.74 in after-hours trading after it announced that Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM) was terminating its Telles joint venture with the bio-science company.
Cardica Inc. (CRDC) suspended enrollment in a European clinical trial of its MicroCutter Xpress 30 surgical cutting device because in a subset of uses it didn’t perform satisfactory in thicker tissue. Shares were down 17% at $1.70 in light after-hours trading.