New figures show shock fall in manufacturing

 

Hopes of an end to Britain's recession woes were dashed today when official figures showed that the manufacturing sector suffered a shock fall in output during April.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed a 0.7% drop in manufacturing output between March and April - an unexpected disappointment after the 0.9% rise the previous month.

Wider industrial production output remained unchanged in April, but this was largely helped by a boost from energy output caused by the cold weather as Britons turned up the central heating.

Alan Clarke, economist at Scotiabank, said the chilly weather saved the UK from an industrial production "bloodbath".

The data is expected to reinforce demands for the Bank of England to increase quantitative easing (QE) to help the UK's ailing economy.

Most experts had forecast an unchanged reading for manufacturing output in April, while the data had been expected to show a slight rise across industrial production as a whole.

Mark Lee, head of manufacturing at Barclays, said: "The harsh realities are hitting home.

"UK manufacturers are focusing on achieving greater cost efficiencies as orders from our biggest trading partner, Europe, remain flat at best."

The ONS said manufacturing data was dragged lower by falls in pharmaceutical products and preparations, as well as in other manufacturing and repair.

In the wider industrial production sector, a 13.6% month-on-month surge in electricity and gas usage during the coldest April since 1989 was offset by a 6.4% fall in oil and gas extraction caused by the closure of a North Sea platform after a gas leak.

Manufacturers' organisation EEF called today's figures "disappointing", with production now hovering around levels seen at the end of 2010.

Samuel Tombs, at Capital Economics, said the manufacturing sector was set to continue holding back economic recovery in the UK.

He added: "Given that the eurozone crisis has intensified since April and recent manufacturing surveys have been very weak, it seems likely that the industrial sector will remain a drag on overall gross domestic product growth for some time to come."

Pressure is mounting on Bank of England policymakers to bolster Britain's prospects following the return to recession in the first quarter of the year.

Rate-setters held off from injecting more cash into the economy through QE last week.

But Monetary Policy Committee member Adam Posen yesterday called for further purchases of assets, such as company loans.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Senior SEO Executive

£24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior SEO Executive is requi...

Recruitment Genius: Online Customer Service Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Online customer Service Admi...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global, industry leading, ...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before