The gap between the value of imports to the United States and its exports widened in January.
The trade deficit grew to $US44.45 billion in January from December's figure of $US38.14 billion.
The Commerce Department said much of the rise in imports came from a 12% increase in imports of oil.
The trade deficit for the whole of 2012 was revised down slightly to $US539.5 billion, which was 3.6% below the level from 2011.
The BBC reports there was better news on unemployment, with a fall in the number of initial claims for unemployment benefits.
The Labor Department said the number of initial claims for state benefits fell 7,000 to 340,000. The figure had been expected to rise.