Trade gap up to £5.2bn in September after exports struggle

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Britain's trade gap widened to a worse-than-expected £5.2 billion in September as the plunging pound offered little help to boost flagging exports.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed the goods and services deficit - the gap between exports and imports - rose from £3.8 billion in August as exports fell by £200 million and imports lifted by £1.2 billion.

The trade gap narrowed overall in the third quarter to £11 billion from £12.7 billion in the previous three months as exports of goods rose by 6.1% thanks to strong overseas demand in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote.

Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said the figures "pour more cold water on hopes that sterling's depreciation will drive an export-led revival".

He said the Brexit-hit pound may help net trade next year but warned "the restructuring of the economy towards exports look set to be particularly sluggish".