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July 13, 2010 8:45 AM, EDT

Trade Deficit Hits 18-Month High

The U.S. trade deficit widened 4.8% in May to the highest level in a year and a half, the Commerce Department said Tuesday.

The increase in the gap between imports and exports left the deficit at $42.3 billion, the most since November 2008, Commerce said.

Economists had projected the deficit to narrow to $39 billion, from 40.3% in April, Bloomberg reported.

Exports rose 2.4% to $154.3 billion, while imports increased 2.9%, to $194.5 billion.