Falling factory output hits UK recovery hopes

 
Tim Wallace
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MANUFACTURING output fell in April, official data showed yesterday, indicating another disappointing quarter for the UK economy.

The sector’s output dropped 0.7 per cent on the month, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), taking output down 0.3 per cent on the year.

The wider production index, which includes industries like energy and mining as well as manufacturing, was flat from March to April and down one per cent on the year – the 14th consecutive monthly of year-on-year fall.

“These figures highlight the tough conditions facing industry operating within the UK – output remains well below pre-financial crisis levels and shows little sign of improvement,” said Colin Edwards from the Centre for Economics and Business Research.

“With the Eurozone in perpetual turmoil the UK’s largest export market looks unlikely to provide an outlet for UK firms any time soon. This is likely to weigh on the potential for output growth for some time.”

The oil and gas industry led the fall with an 18.2 per cent drop in output on the year, closely followed by a 15 per cent decline in mining and quarrying production.

However, there were some bright spots – energy output jumped 13.6 per cent on the month, thanks to April’s bad weather, with electricity production up 9.3 per cent and gas supply rising 32.1 per cent.