Gap between goods exports and imports narrows in October

Image caption The overall trade deficit was unchanged from September at £2.6bn.

The gap between imports and exports of goods narrowed in October, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS said the goods trade deficit narrowed to £9.7bn, compared with £10.1bn in September.

Including services, in which the UK traditionally has a surplus, the overall trade deficit was unchanged from September at £2.6bn.

Separate ONS data brought positive news from the manufacturing sector.

The ONS said the UK Index of production, one of the key components of gross domestic product, grew by 0.4% in the month, in line with forecasts. Compared with October 2012 it was up 3.2%.

The manufacturing of transport equipment was the biggest force behind the increase.

The rise marks a slowdown from the 0.9% rise in September when production bounced back from a weak August, the ONS said.

ING economist Rob Carnell said the data was positive. "This will provide a robust starting point for the fourth quarter and bodes well for fourth quarter GDP if not undermined by the service sector - which we think unlikely," he added.

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