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Current account in Q4 widens more than expected

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The current account deficit widened much more than expected to $124.1 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011, as imports rose and exports dropped, a government report showed on Wednesday.

The Commerce Department said the current account deficit, which measures the flow of goods, services and investments into and out of the United States, widened to 3.24 percent of gross domestic product. That compared to a revised third-quarter current account deficit of $107.6 billion, or 2.84 percent of GDP.

The current account gap for all of 2011 was 3.1 percent of GDP, down slightly from 3.2 percent in 2010.

Analysts polled by Reuters before the report had expected the current account gap to widen to $114.2 billion.

The trade gap widened to $141.1 billion in the fourth quarter, helping to widen the current account deficit.

In addition, the surplus on income flows declined to $50.3 billion, the department said.

(Reporting by Doug Palmer, Editing by Andrea Ricci)