Britain’s goods trade gap with the rest of the world fell to £6.179bn in February, much narrower than the £7.35bn economists had forecast and down from January’s 17-month high of £8.07bn. Exports jumped by 9.5 per cent in February, the biggest monthly increase since January 2003, helped by a surge in overseas chemicals sales which rose to an all-time high.
The positive UK data was in stark contrast to that from the US, which saw its trade gap in February widen to $39.7bn (£25.8bn) due to a jump in consumer goods imports.
US imports grew 1.7 per cent during the month to $182.9bn, but this rise was offset by exports which edged just 0.2 per cent higher to $143.bn. However it was still the best showing since the depths of the global financial crisis in October 2008.
Analysts had expected the trade deficit to widen to around $38bn, and warned the slightly bigger-than-expected deficit could prompt analysts to cut their estimates for first quarter US economic growth.