Boosted by the export of machinery and cars, the UK manufacturing sector appears to be moving into more positive territory, according to the latest official data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
In March, the ONS Index of Production showed manufacturing output rising by 1.1% with the largest upward contributions coming from the manufacture of basic metals and metal products, up by 2.8% and the manufacture of computer, electronic and optical products, up by 5.5%. In contrast, the most significant decreases came from the food and beverage sector, which fell by 1.0% and textiles, down by 1.5%.
The new figures now show a modest fall in output of 0.3% for the first quarter of 2013 when compared with the previous three months while over the 12 months to March 2013 the fall was1.4%.
A March rise in the manufacture of machinery and a quarterly and yearly rise in the manufacture of transport equipment were, said ONS, partially due to an increase in new export orders.
Commenting on the data Lee Hopley, chief economist at the manufacturers’ organisation EEF, said the data pointed to “encouraging gains across the board, with almost all sectors posting some growth and on-going strength in transport and electrical equipment sectors”.
She continued: “Taken with the improvement in the PMI (Purchasing Managers’ Index) earlier in the month the data appears to be moving in a more positive direction. However, a smooth recovery path is not assured as uncertainties in the external demand environment are likely to stay with us in the coming months.”
Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit, believed the better than anticipated data which showed UK factories to have enjoyed the first back-to-back monthly increases in production since the first quarter of 2011was encouraging, “suggesting that the goods-producing sector is finding its feet again and is starting to help drive a wider economic recovery”.
This material is protected by copyright Ken Hurst 2013.