The U.S. goods trade deficit widened sharply in December as slowing global demand and a strong dollar weighed on exports, another sign that economic growth slowed in the fourth quarter.
Other data from the Commerce Department on Wednesday showed new orders for U.S.-made goods barely rose in December and business spending on equipment was much weaker than previously thought, pointing to a softening in manufacturing activity.
The reports, which added to weak December data on retail sales and housing starts, could prompt economists to cut fourth-quarter GDP estimates. But some of the drag on growth from the goods trade gap and weak business spending on equipment could be offset by a strong increase in inventories in December.
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