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US trade deficit up in December to $38.7 billion but annual deficit fell to lowest in 4 years

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In this Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, photo, a ship to shore crane unloads a shipping container at the Georgia Ports Authority Garden City terminal, in Savannah, Ga. The Commerce Department reports on the U.S. trade deficit for December on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton) (The Associated Press)

The U.S. trade deficit increased in December after hitting a four-year low in November. But for the year, the deficit fell to its lowest point since 2009 as exports rose to an all-time high.

The Commerce Department says the trade deficit increased to $38.7 billion in December, a 12 percent increase over November. U.S. exports slipped 1.8 percent to $191.3 billion while imports were up 0.3 percent to $230 billion.

For all of 2013, the deficit dropped 11.8 percent to $471.5 billion, the lowest level since the Great Recession caused the deficit to shrink in 2009.

U.S. exports rose 2.8 percent, as an improving global economy benefited American manufacturers and an energy production boom lifted U.S. petroleum exports to a record level. Imports dipped 0.1 percent.

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