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U.S. trade gap rises to $49.4 billion in April

The U.S. trade deficit hit the highest level in eight months in April as American commerce with other countries was smothered by the coronavirus pandemic.

The gap between what the U.S. sells and what it buys abroad jumped to $49.4 billion in April, up 16,7% from $42.3 billion in March and highest since last August, the Commerce Department said Thursday. April exports fell 20.5% to $151.3 billion, and imports dropped 13.7% to $200.7 billion.

Total trade — exports plus imports — dropped 16.7% in April from March and 24.8% from April 2019.

A container ship is docked at Maher Terminals in Elizabeth, N.J., Monday, May 11, 2020. (AP PhotoMark Lennihan)

In much of the world, the pandemic and the lockdowns meant to contain it have brought economic activity to a near-standstill.

In April. the United States ran a $71.8 billion deficit in the trade of goods such as autos and appliances. It ran a $22.4 billion surplus in the trade of services such as banking and education.

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FILE - In this Nov. 4, 2019 file photo cargo cranes are used to take containers off of a Yang Ming Marine Transport Corporation boat at the Port of Tacoma in Tacoma, Wash. The U.S. trade deficit rose in March 2020 as the coronavirus outbreak battered America’s trade with the world. The gap between what the United States sells and what it buys abroad rose 11.6% in March to $44.4 billion from $39.8 billion in February. (AP PhotoTed S. Warren, File)