WASHINGTON - The U.S. international trade deficit was $44.4 billion in January, a 16.5% increase from the revised $38.1 billion deficit in December, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.

The December trade balance was originally reported as a $38.5 billion deficit. The 16.5% month-over-month increase was the largest since a 16.8% jump between December 2010 and January 2011.

The January deficit was greater than the median $42.6 billion figure estimated by economists polled by Thomson Reuters, and resulted from total exports of $184.5 billion and imports of $228.9 billion.

The trade deficit was $7.8 billion lower than in the same month in 2012. Exports rose $5.8 billion, or 3.3%, from the previous year. Imports fell $2 billion, or 0.9%.

On a month-over-month basis, exports were 1.2% below the previous month's revised level of $186.6 billion, and reflected a $2.6 billion decrease in exports of industrial supplies, the Commerce Department said.

Imports rose 1.8% from the revised December level of $224.8 billion, primarily due to a $4 billion rise in imports of industrial supplies.

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