Trade deficit narrowed to $44.8 billion in July

WASHINGTON (AP) ? American manufacturers sold more cars, airplanes and industrial machinery in foreign markets in July, sending exports to an all-time high and pushing the trade deficit down to its lowest level in three months.

The Commerce Department says the trade deficit narrowed to $44.8 billion in July, down 13.1 percent from June. The improvement reflected a 3.6 percent rise in exports to a record level of $178 billion, reflecting strong sales of a variety of manufactured goods. Imports dipped 0.2 percent to $126.9 billion as the bill for imported oil dropped 6 percent to $35.5 billion as crude oil prices fell.

The big jump in exports should provide critically needed support for U.S. growth at a time when the economy has been in danger of toppling into a recession.