While we have seen improved sentiment lately, it is clear that manufacturers struggled mightily over the past two years to increase international demand, particularly with a strong U.S. dollar and lingering economic challenges to key markets. The U.S. trade deficit, which was $44.3 billion in December, totaled $502.3 billion in 2016 as a whole. That was the highest annual trade deficit since 2012, and it edged slightly higher from the $500.4 billion deficit in 2015.
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