The U.S. trade deficit fell in September to the lowest level in 19 months as demand for U.S.-made airplanes and other exports increased while imports slipped. The politically sensitive deficit with China declined.

The Commerce Department says the deficit narrowed to $36.4 billion in September, down 9.9 percent from August. It was the lowest imbalance since February 2015. Exports rose 0.6 percent to $189.2 billion, the highest level in more than a year. Imports fell 1.3 percent to $226.6 billion.

The latest report offers American manufacturers an encouraging sign that the problems caused by overseas weakness and a rising dollar were beginning to wane.

A falling trade deficit boosted the overall economy in the July-September quarter. Economists are looking for further gains in the coming months.