US trade deficit widened to a near five-year high in January as demand for imported goods swelled.

The trade gap grew by $4.2bn to $48.5bn in January, Commerce Department figures showed on Tuesday. While the figure is in line with expectations, it is the biggest shortfall recorded since March 2012 and would probably be seized on by President Donald Trump as evidence of the need for the US to renegotiate its trade deals with major trading partners.

Reducing the trade deficit has been a key focus in Mr Trump’s presidential campaign last year. Since taking office, he has cited the trade imbalance as signs that US trade policies have hurt American growth and jobs.

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