US international trade gap at $40.90 billion in April vs. $44.0 billion expected

The NYK Joanna container ship sits docked at the Dante B. Fascell Port of Miami-Dade County in Miami, Florida.
Mark Elias | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The U.S. trade deficit narrowed in April as exports of services hit a record high and imports fell.

The U.S. Commerce Department on Wednesday said that the U.S. trade gap shrunk to $40.9 billion in April, down from March's revised deficit of $50.6 billion. The March deficit was previously reported at $51.4 billion.

The 26.6 percent drop in the April trade deficit was the largest decrease since early 2009.

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Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast the trade deficit falling to $44 billion.

Imports fell 3.3 percent to $230.8 billion as West Coast ports, a key entry point for goods to and from Asia, cleared a backlog created by a labor dispute that was settled earlier this year.

Exports increased 1.0 percent to $189.9 billion in April. A stronger U.S. dollar has in recent months made U.S. goods and services less affordable abroad.

Exports of U.S. services swelled to $60.9 billion, the highest ever recorded.

The politically sensitive trade gap with China was $26.5 billion, down 15.2 percent from $31.2 billion in March.

Exports to China were down 5.8 percent to $9.3 billion, while imports from that country slipped 13 percent to $35.8 billion.

The April petroleum deficit stood at $6.8 billion, the lowest since March 2002.

Imports from South Korea were the highest ever recorded, while imports from Britain reached their highest level since July 2008. Exports to Canada, a key U.S. trading partner, fell, while those to Mexico rose.