US trade gap rose to 7-month high of $48.7 billion in November as consumer imports hit record

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The U.S. trade deficit expanded in November to its widest point in seven months, driven by a surge in imports that outpaced modest growth in exports.

The Commerce Department says the deficit widened 15.8 percent to $48.7 billion in November from October. U.S. exports increased 1 percent to $182.6 billion, while imports grew 3.8 percent to $231.3 billion.

U.S. exports to Europe, a region struggling with a prolonged debt crisis, fell 1.3 percent. The jump in imports was led by gains in shipments of cell phones, including Apple's new iPhone.

A wider trade deficit acts as a drag on U.S. growth. It typically means the U.S. is earning less on overseas sales while spending more on foreign products.