British trade deficit expands in May: official

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Britain's trade-in-goods deficit unexpectedly expanded in May as imports hit a two-year high and exports steadied, official data showed on Friday.

The deficit jumped to 8.1 billion pounds (9.7 billion euros/12.3 billion dollars) from an upwardly revised 7.4 billion pounds in April, the Office for National Statistics said in a statement.

April's deficit had originally been put at 7.3 billion pounds, while analysts' consensus forecast had been for a narrowing in May to 6.8 billion pounds, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

"The widening in the trade in goods deficit ... left it at its biggest since the start of the year," said Capital Economics analyst Vicky Redwood.

"Coming on top of the recent weakening in survey measures of export orders, the chances of a significant trade boost in the near-term are looking less and less promising."

The ONS data showed that imports increased 2.4 percent in May from April to reach 29.5 billion pounds -- the highest total since July 2008, while exports rose by only 0.2 percent to 21.5 billion pounds.

© 2010 AFP

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