The official measure of UK manufacturing production fell by 0.8% in May, the second consecutive month on month fall this year. The main contributor to the surprise drop off was the pharmaceutical sector.
The latest fall adds pharmaceuticals to the machinery, rubber and plastic and metals sectors that have so far contributed to a 2.9% fall over the 12 month period since May 2012
Commenting on the new data, Lee Hopley, chief economist at the manufacturers’ organisation EEF, said the latest figures had “cast a bit of a cloud over the positive run of industry data in recent months”.
The data pointed a continuation of difficult conditions across most sectors, she added, although “some growth in exports and signs of stabilitisation in Europe provided a slight lift for overseas sales”.
Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit, thought the data painted “a mixed picture of the health of UK industry” although “the underlying trend remains one of expansion”. He concluded that the data was “also a reminder that the rate of growth in manufacturing remains constrained by relatively weak global demand, and that although exports are rising, the main stimulus to the economic recovery continues to come from the service sector and rising consumption”.
This material is protected by copyright Ken Hurst 2013.