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The U.S. trade deficit grew to $54.9 billion in August, jumping for the first time in 3 months due to increased imports, reports the AP from Commerce Department data.

Why it matters: Though it had fallen in June and July, the country's overall trade deficit is still up for the year as a result of President Trump's ongoing trade war with China.

  • By the numbers: The U.S. increased exports by 0.2% in August to $207.9 billion, but imports jumped up 0.5% to $262.8 billion as shipments of cellphones increased ahead of the planned tariffs against Chinese goods that are planned to begin in September.

What's next: The U.S. and China are set to meet next week for the 13th time to try to resolve the trade dispute, despite the fact that Trump downplayed the importance of the meeting this week, telling reporters he has "a lot of options on China. But if they don’t do what we want, we have tremendous power."

Go deeper: Despite promises, Trump's trade deficits are only growing

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
34 mins ago - World

China's Xi Jinping congratulates Biden on election win

Photo: Paul J. Richards/AFP via Getty Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a message to President-elect Biden on Wednesday to congratulate him on his election victory, according to the Xinhua state news agency.

Why it matters: China's foreign ministry offered Biden a belated, and tentative, congratulations on Nov. 13, but Xi had not personally acknowledged Biden's win. The leaders of Brazil, Mexico and Russia are among the very few leaders still declining to congratulate Biden.

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
1 hour ago - Sports

College basketball is back

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A new season of college basketball begins Wednesday, and the goal is clear: March Madness must be played.

Why it matters: On March 12, 2020, the lights went out on college basketball, depriving teams like Baylor (who won our tournament simulation), Dayton, San Diego State and Florida State of perhaps their best chance to win a national championship.

2 hours ago - World

Scoop: Israeli military prepares for possibility Trump will strike Iran

Defense Minister Benny Gantz attends a cabinet meeting. Photo: Abir Sultan/POOL/AFP via Getty

The Israel Defense Forces have in recent weeks been instructed to prepare for the possibility that the U.S. will conduct a military strike against Iran before President Trump leaves office, senior Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: The Israeli government instructed the IDF to undertake the preparations not because of any intelligence or assessment that Trump will order such a strike, but because senior Israeli officials anticipate “a very sensitive period” ahead of Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20.