The U.S. trade deficit widened more than expected in November, as surging oil prices helped imports to outgain exports. The gap widened to $40.2 billion during the month, the biggest in a year, according to the Commerce Department.
The trade deficit measures the difference between the dollar value of goods the U.S. buys from other countries and the dollar value of the goods it sells to other countries. The jump of 10.4 percent in December reflects the largest monthly increase in exports since March 2007. Exports rose 3.3 percent in December to $142.7 billion. Imports however, saw a more substantial jump of 4.8 percent. That increase was led by a 9.2 percent increase in imports of crude oil and 0.9 percent increase in the price per barrel of oil.
The U.S. trade deficit totaled $380.7 billion in 2009, down markedly from a deficit of $695.9 billion in 2008.
And, the housing market is still hurting. The Mortgage Bankers Association said U.S. mortgage applications decreased last week. The group's composite index fell by 1.2 percent after increasing nearly 21 percent a week earlier. Plus, a new report from real estate website Zillow.com found that one of every five U.S. home owners owed more on their mortgage than their home was worth in the fourth quarter.