Trade deficit narrows in August as exports hit record high

City A.M. Reporter
The UK's goods trade deficit narrowed more than expected in August as export values hit a record high and import values fell slightly, official data showed.

The government is hoping that exports will help support the economy at a time of fiscal austerity at home and Thursday's figures may provide some comfort that the rebalancing of the economy remains on track.

The Office for National Statistics said that Britain's goods trade deficit narrowed to £7.768bn in August from £8.154bn in July, well below forecasts for a deficit of £8.8bn.

The goods trade gap with non-EU countries widened slightly to £4.867bn from a downwardly revised £4.651bn, but still below forecasts for a reading of £5.3bn.

The value of goods exports rose to £25.5bn in August, the highest since monthly records began in 1998. T he ONS said the improvement was driven by exports of intermediate goods, which includes mechanical and electrical components used in the manufacture of larger goods.

In the three months to August, export volumes excluding oil and erratics, rose 0.5 percent, up from a 1.5 percent de cline booked in the three months to July.

A boost from exports in the third quarter could help secure some economic growth for Britain after almost a year of stagnation.

However, worries about the outlook for Britain's main trading partners encouraged the Bank of England last week to restart its quantitative easing programme with a 75 billion pound cash injection.

The central bank's chief economist Spencer Dale told Reuters on Tuesday he expected the economy to weaken for the rest of this year.