February 15, 2018 / 12:35 PM / 2 years ago

India's January trade deficit widens to highest since May 2013

FILE PHOTO - A worker walks past stacked containers at Thar Dry Port in Sanand in the western Indian state of Gujarat April 1, 2011. REUTERS/Amit Dave/File Photo

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India’s trade deficit in January was the widest in more than 4-1/2 years as a surge in the country’s oil and coal import bill outweighed a rise in exports, government data showed on Thursday.

The trade deficit grew to $16.3 billion in January, the highest monthly figure since May 2013, compared with $14.88 billion for December.

The South Asian nation’s imports in January rose 26.10 percent compared with the same month last year to $40.68 billion, data from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry showed.

Exports during the month were up 9.07 percent year on year to $24.38 billion, the data showed.

The world’s third-biggest crude consumer shipped in oil and refined products worth $11.66 billion in January, about 42.6 percent more than a year ago, due to a surge in global oil prices and as India expanded its refining capacity.

Gold imports by the world’s biggest consumer of the precious metal after China declined 22 percent in January, the government data showed.

Separately, precious metals consultancy GFMS has said that gold imports in January were at a 17-month low as prices rebounded and buyers postponed purchases.

The trade deficit has widened by about $42.8 billion in the first 10 months of the financial year that began last April to $131.15 billion. That could put pressure on the current account deficit of Asia’s third-largest economy.

Reporting by Nidhi Verma; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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