The U.S. trade deficit in goods and services widened to a record $35.9 billion in April, as improved U.S. economic growth boosted demand for imported goods, the U.S. government said on Thursday. 

And for the first quarter of 2002, the U.S. current account deficit -- the broadest measure of trade with foreign countries -- hit a record $112.5 billion, up sharply from a revised estimate of $95.1 billion in the last quarter of 2001, when the U.S. economy was beginning to show signs of recovery. 

Both the April trade gap and January-to-March current account deficit were well above the average estimate of analysts surveyed by Reuters before the Commerce Department reports. They pegged the deficits at $32.48 billion and $107.36 billion, respectively. 

The April trade gap mushroomed by $3.5 billion, or roughly 10 percent, from the March level of $32.5 billion. Exports increased by $1.7 billion during April to $80.1 billion, but imports rose $5.2 billion to a monthly tally of $116.0 billion.