The U.S. trade gap rose to its highest mark since June, at $46.3 billion, up from $40.3 billion in December, the Commerce Department said on March 10.
Imports rose for the fourth consecutive month, up 5.2% from December at $214.1 billion, lifted by a jump in oil imports. Petroleum imports reached their highest level since October 2008 at $34.9 billion. The average barrel price of imported crude oil leaped to $84.34 from $79.78 in December.
Imports solidly outpaced exports, which rose 2.7% from the previous month to $167.7 billion.
"The trade deficit is headed in the wrong direction if we want to create jobs and show some sustainable economic growth in America," said Scott Paul, Executive Director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing. "Our overall exports were up in January, which is a good thing, but import growth nearly doubled export growth. So it is clear the Administration is going to need to do more than simply try to double exports to create jobs and revitalize our nation's manufacturing. "
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011