The deficit on trade in goods widened in February to £9.4 billion. This was due to a low figure for the balance of trade in total manufactures, with exports down by around £0.3 billion on the previous month and imports up by £0.5 billion. Anecdotal evidence indicates a fall in the export of non-ferrous metals and pharmaceuticals and a rise in the import of pharmaceuticals and road vehicles. In the three months to February, export prices rose 1.8% and import prices rose 1.6%. This may reflect the depreciation of sterling against major currencies from the beginning of this year.
Due to the volatility of the monthly trade figures, it is not easy to discern trends for a single month. For that purpose it is necessary to look at data over rather longer periods. In the latest three months, trade in goods was in deficit by £26.3 billion, £0.5 billion less than in the preceding three months, but £1.8 billion higher than a year earlier.
This Bulletin also reports figures of trade in services. The balance of trade is estimated to have changed little in February (at a surplus of £5.8 billion), though it is at a lower level than in mid-2011. However, the information on trade in services is mainly obtained from quarterly surveys. That means that the figures for any month contain an element of estimation and some of the figures have to be based on projections at this stage.
Source: Office for National Statistics
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