The nation’s trade deficit rose 2.7% in December as exports fell again, capping the first year since 2009 in which U.S. exports have declined. The U.S. trade gap increased to a seasonally adjusted $43.4 billion from $42.2 billion in November, government data show. That was in line with the MarketWatch forecast. U.S. exports dipped 0.3% to $181.5 billion. They fell 4.8% in 2015 to mark the largest decline since the final year of the Great Recession.

Exports have tumbled because of a weak global economy and a strong dollar that’s made American-supplied goods and services more expensive. The worsened trade picture contributed to slower U.S. economic growth in the second half of 2015. Imports rose 0.3% to $224.9 billion in December. They decreased 3.1% in 2015, largely reflecting lower costs of imported oil. FULL REPORT