Cargoship

The UK's trade deficit narrowed slightly in November thanks to falling oil imports, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The deficit in goods and services - the difference between how much the UK earned in exports, and how much it paid in imports - was £3.2 billion in the penultimate month of 2015, down from £3.5bn in October.

The ONS said the UK imported £500 million less oil during the month, contributing largely to the overall decline.

Looking at the three months to November, the deficit fell £1bn to £7.7bn.

Andrew Charnley, haed of trade and working capital finance for Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: "A second month of falling exports underlines the challenges British businesses are facing overseas at the moment, but all is not lost.

"Not only has falling demand for manufactured products not been outweighed by increasing demand for services, but our latest Business in Britain research also showed that the value of the pound was similarly having a negative impact on exports."

Zach Witton from EEF, the manufacturers' organisation, said the figures were disappointing, despite a narrowing deficit.

"Exports are set to remain under pressure from weak demand flowing from slower growth in emerging markets, particularly China," he said.

"Yet stronger economic growth in the US and the eurozone should provide some support."