AP Economics Writer (AP) -- The U.S. deficit in the broadest measure of foreign trade increased at the end of last year to the highest level in three years, widened by a slight decline in exports and higher imports.
The Commerce Department says the current account trade deficit increased 15.3 percent in the October-December quarter, to $124.1 billion. The increase was partly influenced by an increase in imported airplanes. Exports decreased slightly to $380.4 billion. Imports ticked up to $566.7 billion.
For the year, the current account deficit rose 0.6 percent to $473.4 billion, the largest imbalance since 2008.
Economists think the deficit will keep rising in 2012. Troubles in Europe and slower growth in Asia are likely to drag on U.S. exports. And stronger growth in the United States should boosts imports.