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By Nidhi Verma
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.
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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