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UK trade deficit widens amid falling oil exports

BRITAIN'S trade deficit with the rest of the world widened unexpectedly during November, official data revealed today.

The Office for National Statistics said the gap widened to just over £4.4 billion from £4.25bn the month before as exports fell faster than imports.

The total value of exports fell two per cent to £15.5bn, mainly due to a sharp fall in oil exports, while imports sank just under one per cent to £19.9bn. Market reaction to the data was muted this morning, with gilts and interest rate futures steady while the pound hovered around an 11-year high against the dollar.

The surplus on trade in oil fell to just £202 million from £235m in October.

ONS said the Department of Trade and Industry could offer no explanation for the low number although previous months had been dogged by maintenance shutdowns in the North Sea.

The total trade deficit, which includes Britain's traditional surplus in trade in services such as insurance and banking, widened to £3.3bn in November but hit a record £10.2bn in the three months to November. A breakdown of the numbers also showed that exports to the United States fell by nearly ten per cent on the month.

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