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U.S. rubber product deficit rises 13% in March

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The U.S. rubber product trade deficit rose 13.7 percent in March from the like period of 2009, buoyed by large increases in trade volume in the major tire and rubber categories.

The trade deficit was $581 million during the month, up from $511 million a year earlier, according to U.S. Commerce Department data. Exports jumped 37.2 percent to $689.1 million and imports 25.3 million to $1.27 billion.

Through three months of 2010, the rubber product deficit expanded 6.9 percent to $1.51 billion, as exports for the period climbed 30.4 percent to $1.89 billion and imports 18.8 percent to $3.4 billion.

In the tires and related products category, the deficit gained 4.9 percent in March to $433.2 million. Exports grew 44.2 percent during the month to $386.7 million and imports 20.4 percent to $819.9 million.

For the year, the tire deficit climbed 5.2 percent from 2009 to $1.11 billion.

The passenger tires deficit rose 10.7 percent in March to $279.6 million, while year-to-date the figure increased 10.4 percent to $723.2 million. The truck and bus tires deficit fell 6.7 percent during the period to $105.1 million, while through the first quarter it dipped 1.7 percent to $271.9 million.

On the supply side, the U.S. rubber-related trade category transitioned to an $87,000 deficit in March from a $43.3 million surplus a year earlier.