Industry beats growth forecast for September

BRITISH industry finished the third quarter with a bang, surpassing expectations with a boost to production, according to official figures released yesterday.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that industrial output swelled by 0.9 per cent from August to September, and is now 2.2 per cent higher than it was in the same month last year. The release marks the best annual performance for the UK’s industry in nearly three years.

Blerina Uruci of Barclays research said: “Although the upside in the September outturn is not sufficient to lead to a revision of the preliminary estimate, it provides further evidence of a sound base for the strong third quarter GDP reading.”

Manufacturing production rose by 1.2 per cent in one month to September alone, but was up by only 0.8 per cent on September last year, after shrinking in the late part of 2012 and the early part of this year.

Mining and quarrying, which includes oil and gas, saw by far the strongest growth of any sector: reporting an 11.5 per cent expansion over the same 12-month period. The water, sewerage and waste management part of the index saw an expansion of 7.1 per cent, but electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning dipped by 3.4 per cent.

Samuel Tombs of Capital Economics commented: “With recent improvements in business confidence suggesting that firms are becoming more willing to invest and no signs yet that the recovery in consumer spending is fading, the near-term outlook for manufacturers looks bright.”

Despite very strong readings from the manufacturing sector’s purchasing managers’ index (PMI), such a robust performance is not yet being recorded by official data. Tombs added: “The gap between the two remains significant and casts some doubt over the upbeat news we have been receiving from the survey data.”

Markit’s PMI figures for the sector in September and October were 56.3 and 56 respectively, with anything over 50 pointing to robust growth.