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US trade gap jumps 17.1 percent, highest since late 2012

Shipping containers at the Port of Oakland in Oakland, Calif.
Ken James | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Shipping containers at the Port of Oakland in Oakland, Calif.

The U.S. trade deficit in December jumped to the highest level in more than two years as American exports fell and imports climbed to a record level.

The Commerce Department said Thursday the deficit jumped 17.1 percent to $46.6 billion in December, the biggest imbalance since November 2012. The widening trade gap reflected a drop in exports, which fell 0.8 percent to $194.9 billion. Imports soared 2.2 percent to $241.4 billion.

The deficit for all of 2014 increased to $505 billion, up 6 percent from the 2013 deficit of $476.4 billion. Economists expect the deficit to widen further in 2015 as strong growth in the United States boosts imports, while weak growth overseas and a rising dollar continue to depress exports.

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