The U.S. trade deficit rose 8.5 percent in April to $40.3 billion, the Commerce Department said Tuesday.

In March, according to revised figures, the trade deficit stood at $37.1 billion, compared to $38.82 billion calculated earlier.

The April number is slightly better than what had been predicted by analysts who had forecast that the trade deficit would rise to $41.5 billion.

The increase was due to the rise in imports, which grew by 2.4 percent to $227.7 billion, compared with exports, which grew just 1.2 percent to $187.4 billion.

The deficit with China, Washington's second-largest trade partner, shot up in April by almost 35 percent to $24.1 billion, compared with $17.9 billion in the previous month.

One piece of good news was that U.S. authorities confirmed that the petroleum import deficit declined for its third consecutive month and oil imports are now at their lowest level since November 2010. EFE