The trade gap with other countries in October fell from the previous month 5.4 percent to $40.6 billion, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. This is the smallest in four months, and comes despite the government shutdown.
The rise in exports was due to greater overseas sales of U.S. soybeans, jewelry and collectibles, along with a rising value of petroleum exports. Petroleum exports were the highest on record, and petroleum deficit shrank from $11 billion to $10.5 billion adjusted for inflation.
Exports to the European Union were down 1.7 percent. And to Canada, the U.S.'s biggest trading partner, exports rose 2.3 percent. China's economy is seen to be stabilizing through manufacturing, and most European countries are also expanding overall, pointing to a rebound of global markets.
Imports inched upward 0.4 percent to $233.3 billion, but weak imports might be partially due to weaker consumer demand into the holiday season.
The U.S. trade report comes before Thursday's release of U.S. gross domestic product, which is anticipated to be higher than initially expected.