) -- Car and oil imports helped move the trade deficit higher -- actually, much higher -- in July than most expected, according to a report from the Commerce Department this morning. In fact, the 16% widening in the trade imbalance marks the biggest increase in more than 10 years.

According to the report, the deficit swelled to $32 billion from a revised $27.5 billion figure in June. Many economists expected the imbalance to come to $27.4 billion. Exports grew by $2.7 billion to $127.6 billion in July. Imports outpaced that effort, though, coming to $159.6 billion, or an increase of $7.2 billion.

Highlighted in the data was a near 22% jump in car, car parts and engine imports from June to July, which many reports attributed to the federal government's so-called "cash for clunkers" program. As auto sales spiked in the previous months, overseas car and parts manufacturers sent their wares to the U.S. to take advantage.

Crude imports also grew from $16.6 billion the month prior to$18.5 billion in July, with the average price for a barrel of crude moving to $62.48, its highest level since last fall.

Elsewhere, shares of

Exxon Mobil

(XOM) - Get Report



(CVX) - Get Report

were rising higher by 0.2% and 1.9%, each this morning. American depositary shares for

Royal Dutch Shell


, on the other hand, were slipping by 0.4%.


(TM) - Get Report



(HMC) - Get Report



(F) - Get Report

were also moving higher, gaining 1.4%, 0.8% and 0.1%, respectively.

-- Written by Sung Moss in New York

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