Excluding petroleum, the imbalance was the smallest since 2004. A weaker dollar and growing economies abroad have propelled demand for American-made goods to a record for eight consecutive months. Overseas sales by manufacturers such as Boeing Co. and Deere & Co. will help sustain the expansion through the housing recession and spending slowdown.
The government excludes the effect of prices when calculating trade's impact on economic growth. On that basis, the gap narrowed to $51.2 billion, the lowest since February 2004, from $51.7 billion in September.
Exports rose 0.9 percent to $141.7 billion. An increase in shipments of capital goods, including commercial aircraft and industrial engines, led the gain.
Boeing, the world's second-biggest plane maker, delivered 28 aircraft to foreign buyers in October, up from 23 in September.
Imports increased 1 percent to $199.5 billion, reflecting the jump in demand for crude oil and petroleum products. The price of imported petroleum rose to a record average $72.49 a barrel in October, the report showed.
Exports to Canada, South and Central America and to the nations within the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries were the highest ever in October.
The narrowing of the deficit contributed 1.37 percentage points to third-quarter growth, the most since 1996, according to figures from the Commerce Department. Trade will add about a half percentage point to the economy in each of the next two years, according to a forecast by economists at Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in New York.
A cheaper dollar is helping to boost exports by making American-made goods less expensive to overseas buyers. The dollar was down 8.2 percent against a trade-weighted basket of currencies from its biggest trading partners in the 12 months ended in October, based on Federal Reserve data.