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UK Logs Surprise Trade Surplus In December

The UK goods trade balance showed a surplus for December, defying expectations for a bigger deficit, figures from the Office for National Statistics showed on Tuesday.

The visible trade balance swung to a surplus of GBP 845 million from a GBP 4.947 deficit in the previous month. Economists had expected a deficit of GBP 10 billion. In the same month last year, there was a deficit of GBP 13.767 billion.

Exports jumped 17.4 percent month-on-month after a 3.3 percent increase in the previous month. Imports decreased 0.1 percent after an 11.6 percent fall in November.

The surplus in services trade rose slightly to GBP 6.870 billion from GBP 6.768 billion the previous month.

The total trade surplus surged to GBP 7.715 billion from GBP 1.821 billion in the previous month.

The non-EU trade surplus grew strongly to GBP 6.721 billion from GBP 2.364 billion in November.

In the fourth quarter, the visible trade deficit narrowed to GBP 15.069 billion from GBP 29.480 billion in the previous three months.

Exports grew 10.1 percent sequentially after a 10.2 percent rise in the September quarter. Imports decreased 4 percent after a 2.7 percent increase in the previous quarter.

The underlying total trade deficit, excluding non-monetary gold and other precious metals, widened by GBP 4.0 billion to GBP 6.5 billion in the fourth quarter, the ONS said.

For full year 2019, the visible trade deficit was GBP 129.622 billion versus GBP 139.365 billion last year. Exports increased 6.4 percent and imports grew 2.6 percent.

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