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US current account deficit widens

The U.S. current account deficit widened to $128.2 billion in the fourth quarter of 2017 from an upwardly revised $101.5 billion shortfall in the third quarter, the preliminary estimates by the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis showed.

The bureau said the $26.7 billion gain in the current-account deficit reflected increases in the deficits of goods and secondary income, and a decrease in the surplus of primary income. The deficit rose to 2.6% of GDP from 2.1% in the third quarter.

Total exports of goods and services and income receipts rose $16.6 billion to $878.8 billion in the fourth quarter, while total imports of goods and services and income payments jumped by $43.3 billion to $1.007 trillion.

Goods exports grew by $14.2 billion to $400.7 billion, driven mainly by a gain in industrial supplies and materials. Primary income receipts rose to $243.9 billion, while secondary income receipts fell $5.9 billion to $35.3 billion.

Primary income payments rose to $186.7 billion.

In annual terms, the current-account deficit rose to $466.2 billion in 2017 from $451.7 billion in 2016. The deficit stood at 2.4% of current-dollar GDP in 2017, which is the same percentage as in 2016, according to the bureau.