UK trade gap narrows on record exports

The global goods trade gap narrowed in January to its smallest in nearly a year, with record exports of oil and food and drink helping it to recover from its worst reading on record in December.

The Office for National Statistics said that the country's goods trade deficit closed to £7.057bn from an upwardly revised £9.686bn in December.

Economists had forecast a deficit of £8.5 billion pounds but the figures are notoriously volatile and December figures were affected by severe winter weather that disrupted road, rail and air transport.

The improvement was largely due to a pick-up in export volumes, which rose 6.1 per cent on the month, excluding oil and erratic items. Import volumes rose 1.9 per cent.

There were record levels of exports in oil, intermediate goods, and the "food, drink and tobacco" category.

There was a sharp upward revision to December's deficit due to revised data from Revenue and Customs and a reassessment of seasonal factors.