INDUSTRIAL output in Britain jumped six times faster than expected in March – its strongest monthly growth in almost eight years.
Output increased by 2 per cent compared with February, its fastest monthly rise since July 2002.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that the data would add 0.1 percentage points to its estimate of first-quarter GDP growth.
That had been initially forecast for 0.2 per cent.
The narrower measure of manufacturing output – which excludes oil and mining, rose 2.3 per cent on the month, taking the annual rate to 3.3 percent, its highest since October 2006.
Analysts had expected a rise in industrial output of 0.3 per cent on the month.
The ONS said strong exports had fuelled the rise, particularly with the transport and metals sectors.
It said the relatively weak pound had also helped to increase demand for British products.