UK industrial growth set to thrive in 2011

Julian Harris
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BRITISH manufacturing started 2011 with a bang, growing at its fastest annualised rate for over 16 years, official data showed yesterday.

The UK’s booming sector has now expanded for 12 months in a row, up 6.8 per cent in January, compared to the same time last year, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Factory growth surpassed the expectations of economists, rising by one per cent month-on-month as firms recovered from the weather-reated 0.1 per cent drop in December.

“This outstanding set of figures points to a manufacturing recovery that is both strong and sustainable,” said Graeme Allinson of Barclays Corporate. “The manufacturing companies we bank continue to outperform businesses generally, with little need for restructuring and very few insolvencies,” Allinson added.

Monthly data can be misleadingly volatile, the ONS warned yesterday, yet a comparison of the last three months reveals annual growth of 5.5 per cent, and continuous growth for 15 months in a row.

The total index of production, which also includes mining and energy provision, rose by a slower monthly rate of 0.5 per cent in January.

“Utilities output fell 6.2 per cent due to warmer weather resulting in less gas and electricity demand,” explained ING’s James Knightley. “While they are good numbers, remember that industrial activity accounts for less than 15 per cent of the UK economy,” Knightley said.