The one bright spot in the American economy continues to be the growth in U.S. exports. The Chicago Tribune reports today:

The economy is chugging along on the strength of foreign demand, even as many Americans cut back on basic purchases outside of food and fuel.

That was the message in Tuesday’s report on the trade deficit, which unexpectedly narrowed in June despite record prices for oil and energy imports.

Demand for exports rose 4 percent, the biggest monthly gain in 41/2 years, to the highest level ever. Foreign customers snapped up $164.4 billion in American-made automobiles, electronics, food, industrial supplies and other products, the Commerce Department said.