News In Brief

The US trade deficit soared to an all-time high of $17 billion in January, the Commerce Department reported. It shot up 21 percent from December's $14.1 billion level - and surpassed the old monthly record of $16.7 billion set in August. While US exports declined, imports of autos, consumer goods, and food climbed to record highs.

The consumer price index inched up 0.1 percent last month, the Labor Department reported. February's modest increase brought the 12-month gain in the index to a modest 1.6 percent. The core index, which strips out food and energy costs, was up 2.1 percent from a year ago.

Early reaction to last week's agreement by oil-exporting nations to cut production pushed futures prices to their highest level since early October. Brent crude, the international benchmark, was trading at $13.87 per barrel on the London market - up 40 percent from last month's low of $9.90. The accord on restraining production was reached in a secret meeting in the Netherlands. It is scheduled for a ratification vote Tuesday when Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries members meet in Vienna.

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