November 10, 2011 9:00 AM, EST

U.S. Trade Deficit Narrows; Exports Hit Record

Larry Smith/Trans Pixs

The U.S. trade deficit narrowed by 4% in September as exports climbed to a record high, the Commerce Department said Thursday.

The gap between imports and exports declined to $43.1 billion, the lowest level this year, from a revised $44.9 billion in August that was smaller than originally estimated, Commerce figures showed.

Economists had forecast the deficit to widen to $46 billion, Bloomberg reported.

Exports increased 1.4% to a record $180.4 billion, boosted by sales of industrial supplies, capital equipment, automobiles and consumer goods, Bloomberg said.

Imports rose 0.3% to $223.5 billion. Demand rose for automobiles, food and industrial supplies, but crude oil imports declined, Bloomberg said.