The U.S. trade deficit widened slightly in December, but contracted sharply in 2023 as imports declined and exports rose.

The trade deficit increased 0.5% to $62.2 billion, the Commerce Department's Census Bureau said on Wednesday. Data for November was revised to show the trade gap shrinking to $61.9 billion instead of $63.2 billion as previously reported.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the trade deficit easing to $62.2 billion in December. For the whole of 2023, the trade deficit contracted 18.7% to 773.4 billion. It represented 2.8% of GDP, down from 3.7% in 2022.

Trade added 0.43 percentage point to the economy's 3.3% annualized growth rate in the fourth quarter after being neutral for two straight quarters.

(Reporting By Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)