The US trade deficit fell back to a more normal level in April after a surge the previous month as the distortions from the West Coast port slowdown began to ebb. 

The Commerce Department said today that the April deficit fell to $4.09 billion from the huge $50.6 billion in March.  

Exports gained $1.9 billion to $189.9 billion, while imports fell $7.8 billion to $230.8 billion. 

The return to normal of processing goods through the key ports on the US Pacific coast appeared to be the main reason for the sharp swing. 

The end in February of the three-month labour slowdown unleashed a flood of imports in March from vessels that had stacked up outside the ports. 

Meanwhile, the processing of exports was further delayed, helping boost the April total. 

The US deficit the first four months of the year was up just 0.9% from the same time in 2014. But underpinning that was a 2.3% decline in exports, compared to a 1.8% rise in imports.