UK manufacturing output has fallen by the most it has in nearly six years in April, with a 1.4 per cent fall in factory production marking the third consecutive monthly fall.
The April dip was the steepest fall since October 2012, according to figures out this morning from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Manufacturing output was down 1.4 per cent on the month before, while total production output dipped by 0.8 per cent in April.
The pound slipped on news that the data had come in worse than expected, down 0.35 per cent against the dollar to $1.3368.
The monthly fall in manufacturing was driven by basic metals and products, and other manufacturing and repair, dipping by 0.5 percentage points and 0.3 percentage points respectively, according to the ONS.
The fall marked a surprise turn away from market expectations of a 0.3 per cent rise in April.
The ONS' head of national accounts Rob Kent-Smith said:
Manufacturing fell in the three months to April with electrical machinery and steel for infrastructure projects seeing reduced production.
International demand continued to slow and the domestic market remained subdued. However, oil and gas production grew strongly in the aftermath of the Forties pipeline closure at the end of last year.
As for construction, Kent-Smith said there was a small bounce back in April after a poor start to the year with the first monthly rise in construction since December 2017 - up 0.5 per cent. That was though, weaker than market expectations of a 2.4 per cent rise in April, according to the ONS.
A bright spot was also found with new housing orders, which notched up their highest level since before the economic downturn.
The UK trade deficit meanwhile, widened by £2.1bn to £5.3bn in April, with the largest monthly deficit since September 2016.
Exports of goods and services both declined, with particular dips noted in exports of machinery, aircraft, and pharmaceuticals.