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US trade deficit widened slightly to $39.1 billion in January, reflecting jump in imported oil

International Trade.JPEG

FILE - In this Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, file photo, shipping containers prepare to be loaded and unloaded at the Georgia Ports Authority Garden City terminal, in Savannah, Ga. The commerce department releases international trade data for January, on Friday, March 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton) (The Associated Press)

The U.S. trade deficit widened slightly in January as a rise in imports of oil and other foreign goods offset a solid increase in exports.

The Commerce Department says the trade deficit increased to $39.1 billion, up 0.3 percent from December's revised $39 billion deficit.

Exports climbed 0.6 percent to $192.8 billion, led by increased sales of U.S.-made machinery, aircraft and medical equipment. Imports also rose 0.6 percent to $231.6 billion, reflecting a 9 percent jump in imports of petroleum. Imports of food and machinery also rose.

The trade deficit is the difference between imports and exports. A higher trade deficit acts as a drag on economic growth because it means U.S. companies are making less overseas then their foreign competitors are earning in U.S. sales.

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