Britain's trade-in-goods deficit held steady in March, despite a widening trade gap with European Union countries.

The deficit stood at £8.6 billion sterling (€10.7 billion), the Office for National Statistics said in a statement.

That was unchanged from February's downwardly-revised shortfall.

Market expectations had been for a March deficit of £8.5 billion.

The ONS added that the trade-in-goods deficit with EU countries widened to £4.5 billion in March, compared with £3.7 billion in February. However, the deficit with non-EU countries improved to £4.1 billion from £4.9 billion.

"Given events in the euro zone, it is perhaps unsurprising that the reduction in the deficit was driven by an improvement in the trade balance with non-EU countries," analysts noted.

They said that in the near-term, the dominating influence is likely to be the continuing travails of Greece and the wider euro-area.