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US trade deficit decreases slightly in April

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The US trade deficit narrowed in April, aided by a modest increase in exports and decline in imports

The US trade deficit dialed back in April, as exports rose and imports fell, according to government data released Tuesday.

The $68.9 billion deficit in goods and services recorded by the Commerce Department was slightly larger than expected and came as the world's largest economy was bouncing back rapidly from the Covid-19 pandemic, aided by nationwide vaccination campaigns.

The trade gap was $6.1 billion less than in March, which was revised up to $75 billion, the report said.

Exports rose $2.3 billion in April to $205 billion led by goods like aircraft and crude oil, while imports fell $3.8 billion to $273.9 billion.

"As pandemic distortions dissipate, goods imports and exports will likely rebalance once global economies come back online more completely, which will also lift service sector trade flows," Rubeela Farooqi of High Frequency Economics said, noting that the April deficit is smaller than the first quarter 2021 average of $70.9 billion.

The deficit in goods alone with top trading partner China saw a rare decline in the month, falling by $7.1 billion to $32.4 billion, mostly due to a $6 billion drop in imports.

The goods deficit with the European Union fell by $1 billion, while the gap with Mexico increased by about the same amount, mostly due to a $1.3 billion increase in imports.

The data showed American exports of automotive vehicles, parts and engines decreased $1 billion in April, as US automakers struggled with a shortage of crucial semiconductor chips.

The $1 billion jump in crude oil exports came as global oil prices recovered, and was accompanied by a $1.4 billion increase in civilian aircraft shipments.

Exports of services increased by a modest $700 million to $59.7 billion

The decrease in imports was broad-based, comprised of a $4.6 billion drop in goods imports offset by a $700 million increase in service imports.

Among goods, imports of automotive vehicles, parts and engine imports fell $1.1 billion.