Britain’s goods trade gap with the rest of the world widened slightly more than expected in June as the oil balance swung into deficit following summer maintenance work, official data showed.

The Office for National Statistics said that Britain’s goods trade gap widened to 6.451 billion pounds from 6.174 billion pounds in May. Economists had forecast a deficit of 6.20 billion pounds.

The oil balance recorded a deficit of 315 million pounds from a surplus of 100 million pounds in May. The ONS said that was probably due to increased refinery demand when indigenous production is somewhat lower because of summer maintenance.

Overall, imports rose 2.2% on the month, the biggest rise since July 2008, while exports gained 1.4% in June.

Most analysts still see the trade gap narrowing in the coming months as weaker sterling over the last year helps support demand for British goods.

The goods trade gap with non-EU countries also widened slightly more than expected to 3.648 billion pounds from 3.215 billion pounds in May. Analysts had forecast a deficit of 3.5 billion pounds. (Reuters)