UK trade deficit narrows as exports hit a record

Cargo containers being moved at a port The ONS said there was a rise in exports of chemicals and telecoms equipment

The UK's trade deficit narrowed sharply in October, as the value of exports hit a record high, official figures have shown.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the deficit in goods fell to £7.6bn, down from £10.2bn September.

Exports of goods rose to a record £26.5bn, while imports fell from September's record £34.6bn to £34.1bn.

There was a particularly strong rise in exports of chemicals, medical products, and telecoms equipment, the ONS said.

Despite the improvement, economists urged caution and forecast that the improvement was unlikely to be repeated.

Howard Archer, at IHS Global Insight, said: "October's much improved performance followed a sharp deterioration in September, which highlights the major volatility that can occur month to month in trade data".

Nidia Ali, economic advisor to Ernst & Young, described the figures as "a bolt from the blue" and at odds with "recent trends in the wider economy".

He was "very wary" about drawing firm conclusions from the data.

Separately, ONS figures showed that the price of goods leaving UK factories eased in November, confirming predictions that inflation could be edging down.

Producer output prices rose by 5.4% last month year-on-year, down from 5.7% in October.

Input prices were 13.4% higher on the year, compared with 14.3% in October.

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