The US trade deficit rose sharply in January, forging the biggest gap since October 2008 as imports surged, official data showed Friday. The trade gap grew to $52.6 billion, after an upwardly revised $50.4 billion in December, the Commerce Department reported. The US gap in goods and services has been widening in recent months, a period of rising oil prices. The three-month average ending in January rose to $50.2 billion, from $47.0 billion in the October-December period. The January trade deficit was much bigger than the $48.2 billion gap expected by most analysts. In January, exports rose 1.4 percent to $180.8 billion, outpaced by $233.4 billion in imports, a jump of 2.1 percent from December.