The UK economy is showing signs of mixed form, as production output increased in November, although construction output showed a small decline month on month.
Production was estimated to have increased by 2.1 per cent compared with October, with oil and gas capacity coming back on track after a maintenance period and a strong showing in the pharmaceutical industry, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Construction output fell by 0.2 per cent compared with October, as non-housing repair and maintenance fell, continuing a downward trend started in 2014. However, new work increased slightly, with public and priate housing both recording increases.
A decline in private commercial work also dragged on growth in construction output, with the second-largest contribution to the decline.
A pause in output from the Buzzard oil field caused a steep fall in overall industrial production in October.
Pharmaceutical production grew by 11.4 per cent to contribute towards the overall rise – although the ONS noted that large contract sizes mean the sector experiences large volatility.
Year-on-year industrial production increased by two per cent. The ONS credits growth in pharmaceuticals, transport equipment, and rubber and plastic for the increase.
Senior ONS statistician Kate Davies said: “Today’s figures continue to paint a mixed picture of the UK’s economic performance. Production saw significant growth, mainly down to increased oil and gas output as the Buzzard field came back online along with a boost from the volatile pharmaceuticals industry.
“However, the trade deficit widened as imports of transport equipment, chemicals and portable computers helped eclipse rising exports, while falls in repair work and commercial building led to a small overall decline in construction."
Lee Hopley, chief economist at EEF, said: “Validating recent business surveys, the official statistics are pointing to a pretty positive end to 2016 for UK manufacturing. The solid month on month growth in production in November appears broad based across the industry and, even taking account of the erratic pharmaceuticals output numbers, we should see output expand over the year overall.
“Similarly, the trade figures confirm that a rosy combination of improving demand indicators in key markets and a weaker exchange rate are providing a supportive boost to manufactured exports," she added.