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Last Updated: Friday, 11 January 2008, 15:15 GMT
US trade deficit widens sharply
A container ship passes through the San Francisco Bay
Petroleum imports hit a record
The US trade deficit expanded to its highest level in 14 months in November as imports, especially of oil, overshadowed a rise in exports.

The Commerce Department said that the trade deficit expanded by 9.3% to $63.1bn (32bn) driven by a 16.3% jump in America's foreign oil bill.

US exports rose by 0.4% to a new record of $142.3bn, getting a boost from the weaker dollar.

Analysts said the growing deficit could weigh on US economic growth.

But they added that the trade deficit, the gap between imports and exports, should narrow in the longer term as the weaker dollar makes US exports more competitive on world markets.

The trade gap widened by more than expected, with economist forecasting a deficit of $59bn compared with $57.8bn in October.

The US trade deficit with China shrank slightly to $24bn, down from a record high in October when shops were receiving shipments of toys in time for Christmas.

However, the figures brought the year-to-date deficit with China to $237.5bn at the end of November, already eclipsing the annual record of $232.6bn set in 2006.

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