The U.S. trade deficit widened to a record in January, as oil prices rose and the country's mild-weather shopping spree embraced a lot of foreign-made goods.

The deficit was $68.5 billion in January, up from a downwardly revised $65.1 billion in December. Economists had been expecting a reading of $66.5 billion for the first month of 2006.

January's gap reflected a 3.5% rise in total imports to $182.9 billion and a 2.5% rise in exports to $114.5 billion. Cars, consumer goods and oil made up the lion's share of the swelling import rolls.

Petroleum imports were $24.6 billion in the month, up about $1 billion from December, as higher prices offset a slight reduction in barrel volume.

Stocks had little reaction to the Commerce Department numbers, with futures pointing to a higher start for both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq. Bonds firmed, with the yield on the 10-year note falling from 4.75% to 4.74%.

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