WASHINGTON — The U.S. current account deficit increased to $137.3 billion in the first quarter of 2012, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.

The increase was 15.7% over the downwardly revised fourth quarter 2011 deficit of $118.7 billion, which was originally reported as $124.1 billion.

The deficit was greater than the median $132.1 billion estimate of economists polled by Thompson Reuters, and was the largest since it hit $151.0 billion in the fourth quarter of 2008.

The first-quarter deficit represented 3.6% of gross domestic product, up from 3.1% the previous quarter.

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