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Record Oil Prices Boost US Trade Deficit to Near-Record Levels

The U.S. trade deficit hit the third-highest level on record in August, as the price of imported oil soared.

Thursday's report from the Commerce Department says the gap between what Americans buy and what they sell abroad was $59 billion.

The figures show little impact from Hurricane Katrina, which struck at the end of the month.

But a separate government report from the Labor Department shows storm damage prompted 75,000 more people to apply for unemployment compensation last week. That brings the total jobs lost to hurricanes to 438,000.

Nationwide, the number of people asking for first time compensation declined slightly during the week.

Analysts say in spite of the hurricanes, the overall labor market is strong as companies expand labor forces to meet growing demand.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.