Manufacturing surge is a boost to UK recovery

MANUFACTURING output defied expectations to surge by 2.3 per cent in March on the previous month, while the wider industrial production index jumped two per cent, its strongest monthly expansion in nearly eight years, official data showed yesterday.

Both manufacturing output and industrial production rose by 1.2 per cent in the first quarter, stronger than the 0.7 per cent gain the Office for National Statistics (ONS) assumed in its initial growth estimate.

The ONS said that the strong production data would add a 0.1 percentage point to first quarter growth when it releases its second estimate on 25 May.

The data confirms the surveys’ indications of a strong recovery for the hard-hit manufacturing sector but economists warned that industry is not big enough to drive a solid recovery in the overall economy.

There was also evidence that a weak currency was finally feeding through to manufacturers’ output.

The latest GDP forecast from the National Institute for Economic and Social Research (Niesr) revealed that the UK economy grew by 0.5 per cent in the three months to April.