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May 11, 2011 10:00 AM, EDT

U.S. Trade Deficit Jumps 6%

Larry Smith/Trans Pixs

The U.S. trade deficit widened by 6% in March, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.

The gap between imports and exports rose to $48.2 billion, the biggest since June, Bloomberg reported.

The gap was larger than economists’ median forecast of a $47 billion deficit.

Exports jumped 4.6%, the biggest gain since March 1994, to $172.7 billion, led by automobiles, chemicals and industrial machinery.

Imports soared 4.9% to $220.8 billion, the highest level since August 2008, from $210.4 billion. Higher fuel prices and demand for autos and computers led the increase, Bloomberg reported.