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U.S. trade gap widens sharply in Jan.

U.S. trade gap widens sharply in Jan. (by Greg Robb)

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) -- The U.S. trade deficit widened by 15.1% in January to $46.3 billion, the Commerce Department said Thursday. The deficit is the largest since June 2010 and came despite a record level of exports. The trade deficit was well above the consensus forecast of Wall Street economists of a deficit of $41.5 billion. Imports rose 5.2% in January, the biggest gain since March 1993, easily outpacing a 2.7% gain in exports. The U.S. trade deficit with China widened to $23.2 billion in compared with $18.3 billion in the same month last year. The trade deficit had added an impressive 3.4 percentage points to growth in the fourth quarter. But the wider deficit in January suggests trade will be a drag on first quarter growth.