By BridgeNews Foreign investors bought or created $320.9 billion worth of U.S. businesses in 2000, up 17% from the previous year, when such spending surged 28%, the Bureau of Economic Analysis said June 6. Manufacturing and the scientific and technical sectors enjoyed the most interest, while outlays decreased in information services. Outlays by Canadian, European, and Asian investors all increased. Within Europe, spending by Britons was broadly unchanged, but at $107.7 billion was much larger than that of any other country. Spending by investors in the Netherlands ranked second. In Asia and the Pacific, three-quarters of the increase in expenditures was accounted for by investors from Japan. Businesses that were newly acquired or established by foreigners in 2000 employed 646,000 people. Over the past three years, investment has rocketed amid a worldwide surge in merger and acquisition activity, with interest in U.S. entities encouraged by the extension of a record economic expansion. In 1998 spending by foreigners to acquire or establish new businesses nearly tripled. European financiers accounted for 75% of the investment spending from 1998 to 2000, up 64% from the previous three years. Spending by Britons, which accounted for over a third of total investment spending, was more than three times more than outlays from the Netherlands, which spent the second largest amount. Evidence that foreigners remained keen to invest in the U.S. last year will allay concerns in some quarters that a record current-account deficit, equivalent to 4.4% of GDP, will someday destabilize the world's largest economy. If capital continues to flow here then that gap will be easily financed, easing those concerns.