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US trade deficit dips 3.6 percent to $40.4 billion in March as exports up faster than imports

The U.S. trade deficit narrowed in March as exports rebounded to the second highest level on record, led by strong gains in sales of aircraft, autos and farm goods.

The Commerce Department says the deficit declined to $40.4 billion, down 3.6 percent from a revised February imbalance of $41.9 billion, which had been the biggest trade gap in five months.

U.S. exports rose 2.1 percent to $193.9 billion with exports to Canada and South Korea hitting all-time highs. Imports also rose but by a slower 1.1 percent to $234.3 billion, reflecting increased shipments of cellphones, clothing and other consumer goods and increased demand for heavy machinery and other capital goods.

A smaller trade deficit can boost growth because it means U.S. companies are earning more on their overseas sales.

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