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US trade deficit widens slightly on rise in imports

WASHINGTON - A rise in imports widened the US trade deficit in July, government data showed Wednesday, although the increase was smaller than analysts had expected.

The country's trade gap grew to $65.0-billion in July, up from June's revised $63.7-billion figure, the Commerce Department said.

But this remained below the average for the second quarter as calculated by analysts.

In the latest figures, imports picked up 1.7 percent to $316.7-billion while exports rose 1.6 percent to $251.7-billion.

In particular, imports of consumer goods such as mobile phones and pharmaceutical preparations increased, alongside semiconductors, Wednesday's report showed.

While the US economy has showed signs of slowing, resilient consumer spending has helped boost US trade.

But this could weaken as rapid interest rate hikes by the central bank -- aimed at lowering inflation and cooling demand -- ripple through the world's biggest economy.

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