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US Trade Deficit Hits All-Time High in 2004

The U.S. trade deficit hit an all-time high in 2004.

Thursday's Commerce Department report says the gap between what Americans bought overseas and what they sold abroad was just under 618 billion dollars for the year.

That is a 24 percent increase over the previous year.

The U.S. trade gap with China also soared to a new record.

The rise may increase calls by U.S. politicians for Beijing to stop the alleged manipulation of its currency, a move that gives its exports a price advantage.

A separate report from the Labor Department shows the number of Americans asking for first-time unemployment compensation dropped unexpectedly last week.

The 13,000 drop brought jobless claims to the lowest level in four years (303,000).

Some information for this report provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.