The U.S. trade deficit widened slightly in May, reflecting declines in sales of American-made aircraft and machinery as exports continued to suffer from the rising value of the dollar.

The Commerce Department says the deficit increased 2.9 percent to $41.9 billion in May, up from an April imbalance of $40.7 billion.

Imports fell 0.1 percent to $230.5 billion. Exports slid at a faster pace of 0.8 percent to $188.6 billion. American producers have been hurt this year by a rising value of the dollar, which makes U.S. goods less competitive in overseas markets.

Even with the slight rise in the deficit in May, the deficit over the past two months is averaging less than the first quarter. That should help boost growth in the second quarter.