Manufacturers lose steam after a stronger year

Tim Wallace
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UK FACTORY output was 2.7 per cent higher in 2014 compared to 2013, but manufacturers are struggling to get back to pre-recession levels of output, official figures show.

The recent recovery in manufacturing appears to have fizzled out – output was only 0.2 per cent higher in the three months to December than in the three months to September, the Office for National Statistics said yesterday.

Industrial production – which includes mining and quarrying as well as manufacturing – dipped 0.2 per cent month-on-month in December. It was pushed down by a 3.1 per cent fall in oil and gas extraction.

Industrial production makes up 14.6 per cent of the UK’s GDP.

Comparing the three months to December to the three months to September, industrial production was just 0.1 per cent higher.

Total production and manufacturing output remain 10.5 per cent and 5.1 per cent respectively below their pre-recession peaks.

“December’s industrial production figures confirmed that the sector’s recovery fizzled out in the fourth quarter [October to December],” said economist Paul Hollingsworth from Capital Economics.

“Manufacturing exporters will obviously be hoping that Eurozone economic activity is increasingly stimulated by very low oil prices, the weak euro and the substantial monetary stimulus now being enacted by the European Central Bank; they will also be hoping that the current major uncertainty over Greece does not seriously hit Eurozone economic activity,” said economist Howard Archer, from analysts IHS.

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