WASHINGTON — The US trade deficit shrank in April, but only because a big drop in imports offset the first decline in US exports in five months.
The Commerce Department said Friday that the trade deficit narrowed 4.9 percent in April to $50.1 billion.
US exports, which had hit a record the previous month, fell 0.8 percent to $182.9 billion. Sales of everything from commercial jetliners to industrial machinery declined.
Imports, which set a record in March, dropped faster 1.7 percent to $233 billion.
The trade gap remains wide and could weigh on growth in the April-June quarter. A wider trade gap slows growth because it means the United States is spending more on foreign-made products than it is taking in from sales of US-made goods.
The slip in exports is especially troublesome because it shows the weaker global economy is dampening demand for American-made goods.