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Rubber trade deficit soars 8.8 percent in first half of 2014

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WASHINGTON—The rubber product trade deficit continued to soar through the first half of 2014, with the shortfall climbing 8.8 percent for the six-month period.

The deficit checked in at $5.96 billion for the first half, nearly $1 billion a month, according to data from the U.S. Commerce Department. Imports grew 4.5 percent to $11.3 billion, more than doubling the $5.31 billion total for exports, which increased just a fraction of a percent.

For June, the deficit jumped 11.4 percent to $1.08 billion. Overall rubber product trade activity was higher, as imports grew 8.5 percent to $2.02 billion and exports gained 6.9 percent to $938.6 million.

Among individual product categories:

c the deficit for tires and related products climbed 7.3 percent during the first half to $4.58 billion and jumped 10 percent in June to $810.2 billion;

c the shortfall for hose and tubing spiked 55.9 percent for the first six months of 2014 to $176.9 million and increased 77 percent in June to $35.4 million;

c belting saw its deficit rise 22.2 percent in the half to $101.4 million but drop 10 percent to $16.3 million in June; and

c the trade shortfall for miscellaneous hard rubber goods was up 3.8 percent through June to $490.3 million and 5.4 percent on the month to $73.5 million.

On the supply side, the surplus jumped 39.8 percent for the first half of the year to $337.8 million, but fell 78.1 percent to just $5.74 million in June.