WASHINGTON - The U.S. trade deficit fell in November to its lowest level in four years, an encouraging sign for economic growth. Gains in energy production and stronger sales of American-made airplanes, autos and machinery lifted exports to an all-time high.
The Commerce Department says the trade gap dropped 12.9 percent to $34.3 billion in November, the smallest monthly trade deficit since October 2009.
Exports rose 0.9 percent to a record $194.9 billion, aided by a 5.6 percent rise in petroleum exports. Imports dropped 1.4 percent to $229.1 billion. A decrease in demand for foreign oil offset a record level of imported autos.
Through 11 months of 2013, the trade deficit is 12.3 percent lower than the same period in 2012. Exports have strengthened while imports are slightly lower.