U.S. trade deficit narrows sharply in April

FILE PHOTO: Ships and shipping containers are pictured at the port of Long Beach in Long Beach, California, U.S., January 30, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. trade deficit narrowed sharply in April as imports declined, suggesting that trade could contribute to economic growth this quarter for the first time in two years.

The Commerce Department said on Tuesday that the trade deficit dropped 19.1% to $87.1 billion. Imports of goods and services fell 3.4% to $339.7 billion, while exports increased 3.5% to $252.6 billion.

A record trade deficit chopped 3.23 percentage points from gross domestic product in the first quarter, resulting in GDP contracting at a 1.5% annualized rate after growing at a robust 6.9% pace in the fourth quarter. Trade has subtracted from GDP for seven straight quarters.

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