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 says 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.