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Trade deficit widens as exports fall

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. trade deficit widened in August, in line with analyst expectations, as U.S. goods exports fell for the fifth consecutive month, a government report showed on Thursday.

The monthly trade gap increased to $44.2 billion, from an upwardly revised estimate of $42.5 billion in July, the Commerce Department said. Analysts were expecting an August trade gap of about $44.0 billion.

Overall U.S. exports dropped 1.0 percent as troubles in Europe continue to weigh on global growth, while imports fell 0.1 percent in a sign of faltering U.S. demand for consumer products, autos and capital goods.

Exports of oil, chemicals and other industrial supplies fell to the lowest level since February 2011, helping pull down the entire goods category, despite an increase in capital goods exports to the second-highest level on record.

Services exports defied the overall trend and rose to a record $52.8 billion, due mostly to increases in professional and business services and transportation.

Services imports also set a record, reflecting licensing fees to broadcast the Summer Olympic games in Britain.

The average price for imported oil rose slightly in August to $94.36 per barrel, helping to push the monthly oil import bill higher.

A separate Labor Department report showed that overall U.S. import prices rose 1.1 percent for the second consecutive month in September, while U.S. export prices rose 0.8 percent.

Both increases were above expectations.

Analysts surveyed before the report had expected a 0.7 percent increase in import prices and a 0.4 percent rise in export prices.

(Reporting by Doug Palmer; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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