Maufacturing grows as trade deficit hits 17-month low
Britain's trade deficit fell to a 17-month low in November - helped by cheaper oil - while the manufacturing sector grew at its strongest pace in seven months, official figures showed.
The shortfall between exports and imports narrowed to £1.4bn from £2.2bn the previous month, the smallest since June 2013.
Manufacturing grew by 0.7%, reversing a contraction of the same size the previous month. It equalled the pace of growth in April and has not been better since last February. However, the wider production sector slowed by 0.1%, dragged lower largely by oil and gas extraction due to maintenance work in the North Sea.
A third set of figures - all of them published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) - showed the construction industry shrank by 2% in November, its second monthly fall in a row.
Some experts said the data added to fears that the recovery was slowing in the fourth quarter, with unofficial survey results pointing to growth of 0.5% for the last three months of the year, down from 0.7% in the third quarter.
Markit's Chris Williamson said: "Disappointing official data adds to survey evidence indicating the rate of UK economic growth slowed towards the end of 2014."