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February 10, 2012 10:10 AM, EST

U.S. Trade Deficit Widens to Six-Month High

The U.S. trade deficit expanded by 3.7% in December as imports climbed to the highest level in more than three years, the Commerce Department said Friday.

The gap between imports and exports rose to $48.8 billion, a six-month high, from a revised $47.1 billion in November that was lower than originally reported, Commerce figures showed.

Economists had projected the deficit would widen to $48.5 billion from the previously estimated $47.8 billion in November, Bloomberg reported.

Exports increased 0.7% to $178.8 billion, led by record petroleum sales, Bloomberg said.

Imports climbed 1.3% to $227.6 billion, the most since July 2008, on record purchases of capital equipment, Bloomberg said.