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WASHINGTON: A big jump in imports in November ahead of the holiday season caused the US trade gap to rebound sharply, the government reported Thursday.

After a decline in the prior month, the deficit jumped 19.4 percent to $80.2 billion, just shy of the record set in September, the Commerce Department said.

Exports of goods and services, which jumped in October, were barely changed at $224.2 billion, while imports surged $13.4 billion to $304.4 billion, both the highest on record, according to the report.

"Overall, trade flows have recovered pandemic losses with both exports and imports now higher than pre-crisis levels despite supply chain disruptions and logistical challenges," said Rubeela Farooqi of High Frequency Economics.

US trade deficit saw big export-fueled drop in October: govt

But she cautioned that "new virus outbreaks could be a near-term headwind if they weigh on global demand and further aggravate supply chains."

When focusing on goods alone -- excluding the dominant US service sector -- the deficit rose to $99 billion, also an all-time high, the report said.

The gap with China rose slightly to $32.3 billion, while the deficit with the European Union hit its highest level ever, rising to $20.8 billion.

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