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US trade deficit reaches six-month high


The US trade deficit increased more than expected in December on rising imports and higher oil prices, lifting the 2011 gap figure to the highest level since the financial crisis.

Separately, consumer sentiment slumped in early February as concerns over falling incomes outweighed renewed optimism over jobs.

Commerce department figures released on Friday showed the trade gap grew 2.7 per cent to $48.8bn, the highest level since June, from a revised $47.1bn in November. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had expected the deficit to rise to $48.5bn in the final month of the year.

December’s increase lifted the full-year trade gap 11.6 per cent to $558bn, the highest level in three years, with imports and exports both hitting record levels.


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