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US Trade Deficit Hits Record $69.9 Billion

The U.S. trade deficit hit a record of $69.9 billion in August as energy prices increased and the trade gap with China set a record.

The U.S. Commerce Department Thursday said the total trade deficit rose 2.7 percent from a $68 billion gap in July.

Higher oil prices were a key reason for the increase. The average price of crude oil hit an all-time high of $66.12 per barrel in August, although prices have declined since then.

Also, the politically sensitive U.S. trade deficit with China widened to $22 billion from $19.6 billion in July.

Analysts say the latest figures may cause some U.S. lawmakers to increase pressure on China to raise the value of its currency. Those lawmakers say an undervalued yuan unfairly helps Chinese exporters.

Analysts say the weaker dollar and expansion in Europe and Asia are fueling American exports but improvement in the trade deficit will be slow because the U.S. economy is still growing faster than that of most trading partners.

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