Keeping Track ...
Consumer price index
Fresh fruit - up 3.7%
AIRLINE FARES - Up 1.8%
GASOLINE - Up 0.1%
CLOTHING - Down -1.1%
USED AUTO SALES - Down -1.6%
COMPUTER HARDWARE - Down -4.4%
Inflation in the US last year hit a 12-year low of 1.6 percent, the Labor Department reported. Prices rose a mere 0.1 percent in December.
Meanwhile, the US trade deficit soared to a record $168.6 billion last year.
Devalued Asian currencies allowed Americans to buy more imported goods in 1998. The previous record deficit, $153.3 billion, was set in 1987.
Economists predict the record will be broken in 1999 as the US continues to buy imports from troubled countries.