The numbers: The U.S. trade deficit in goods narrowed 7.3% in April, according to the Commerce Department’s advanced estimate released Friday.
The deficit narrowed to $85.2 billion from a record $92 billion in March.
Economists polled by Econoday were looking to a $91 billion deficit.
The report also showed a 0.8% gain in wholesale inventories while retail inventories were down 1.6%. Excluding autos, retail inventories were up 0.5%.
Big picture: The international trade gap remains wide due to the strong economy that is getting stoked by U.S. fiscal stimulus. The trade deficit is expected to continue to be a drag on U.S. GDP growth this year. Shipping delays caused by congestions at U.S. ports, especially on the West Coast, weighed on trade in the past year, analysts said.
What happened: Exports picked up in April while imports slipped.
There were gains in exports of capital goods and industrial supplies that were partially offset by a decline in autos.
The U.S. imported fewer cars and consumer goods in April than in the prior month.
Market reaction: Stocks
were set to open higher Friday. The Dow was on pace for its fourth monthly gain in a row.