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The U.S. trade deficit climbed during October to $11.61 billion, the biggest monthly gap in 2 1/2 years, as prices for imported oil rose sharply again, the Commerce Department said today. The new figure was 24.5 percent higher than September's.

Despite a lower volume of imported oil, the total cost climbed to $7.2 billion, 17 percent more than in September, because of higher prices.

Total exports rose 8.6 percent during October to a record $34.77 billion, while imports climbed even more sharply by 12.2 percent from September levels to a record $46.38 billion. An unexpected surge in car imports contributed to the widening trade gap.

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