Britain’s goods trade deficit widened more than expected to a seven-month high in February as the value of exports fell to its lowest level in more than four years, according to official data on Thursday.
The figures also showed January’s initially strong-looking trade data now looked much weaker.
The Office for National Statistics the deficit in goods widened to 10.34 billion pounds from a shortfall of 9.17 billion pounds in January, bigger than all forecasts in a Reuters poll of economists.
Goods exports sank to 23.16 billion pounds, their lowest level in any month since September 2010.
The falling exports mainly reflected weaker sales to the United States.
While the trade deficit narrowed in the fourth quarter of last year and helped overall economic growth in the period, Thursday’s figures will do little to ease concerns that Britain’s strong economic recovery is still too reliant on consumer spending.
The total trade deficit, including services, also widened to 2.86 billion pounds from 1.54 billion pounds.