The U.S. trade deficit narrowed in April as American purchases of foreign-made goods, including TVs, toys and telecommunications equipment, declined.

The Commerce Department reported Thursday that the trade imbalance shrank by 2.7 percent in April to $32.2 billion. The March deficit, however, was even bigger than the government previously estimated, mushrooming to $33.1 billion, according to revised figures. 

In April, exports of goods and services fell by 2 percent to $86.9 billion, while imports declined by 2.2 percent to $119.1 billion. 

Another factor contributing to the slimmer deficit: The average price for a barrel of imported crude oil in April dipped to $21.65, the lowest since November 1999. 

America's continuing trade deficits represent a political challenge for President Bush. He is trying to overcome resistance in Congress to granting him the negotiating authority he needs to strike a new free-trade agreement with all the democratic nations in the Western Hemisphere. That authority also would allow him to open a new round of World Trade Organization talks on lowering trade barriers.