May 11, 2011 / 8:34 AM / 8 years ago

Trade gap widens in March but Q1 still strong

LONDON (Reuters) - The country’s goods trade deficit widened more than expected in March, giving back some of the strong improvement seen in the first two months.

The Office for National Statistics said that the goods trade gap widened to 7.66 billion pounds from 6.99 billion in February, some way above the 7.25 billion pounds economists had expected.

The total trade deficit, which includes services where Britain is traditionally stronger, also widened on the month.

However, on a quarterly basis, the total trade deficit fell to its lowest level since the fourth quarter of 2009, suggesting net trade still made a decent contribution to first-quarter growth.

On the quarter, exports grew 4.2 percent while imports slipped 0.6 percent.

The improvement in the underlying trend will provide some relief to policymakers who have pinned their hoped of economic recovery on the country exporting more at a time of weak domestic demand.

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