UPDATE 2-Mexico swings to trade surplus in April, powered by record exports

(Adds comments from Mexican official, economist, current account info)

MEXICO CITY, May 25 (Reuters) - Mexico swung to a bigger-than-expected trade surplus in April powered by record exports, as U.S. demand helped to fuel a recovery in Latin America’s second largest economy, official data showed on Tuesday.

National statistics agency INEGI said that adjusted for seasonal swings, Mexico posted a $249 million trade surplus last month after logging a deficit of nearly $3.4 billion in March.

In unadjusted terms, Mexico’s trade surplus was just over $1.5 billion in April. That compared with a Reuters poll forecast for an unadjusted surplus of $850 million.

A breakdown of the INEGI figures showed that Mexico sold $40.3 billion worth of exports in April in adjusted terms, 0.2% higher than the previous month, which was also a record.

“Solid U.S. demand and a competitive exchange rate” should continue to support Mexican exports, said Goldman Sachs economist Alberto Ramos.

April’s exports were up by more than 74% from the same month in 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic hammered the economy and brought much of Mexican manufacturing output to a halt.

Separately, the central bank said Mexico in the first quarter ran a current account deficit of $5.135 billion, equivalent to 1.7% of gross domestic product (GDP).

“The balance of payments remains significantly more exposed to a confidence or policy shock that could significantly affect capital account flows, portfolio and FDI, than to a significant widening of the current account balance,” said Ramos.

Mexico’s economy shrank 8.5% last year, but U.S. stimulus spending is expected to help lift growth in 2021. The United States is the destination for around 80% of Mexico’s exports.

An increasing number of economic forecasters predict Mexican GDP could expand by 5% or more this year.

“The economic recovery is already reflected in Mexico’s foreign trade figures,” said Mexican Deputy Economy Minister Luz Maria de la Mora. (Reporting by Dave Graham; Additional reporting by Anthony Esposito Editing by Alexander Smith and Marguerita Choy)