Business

UK industrial output falls 0.1% in January

a welder works on a pipe on an oil rig Image copyright European Photopress Agency

UK industrial output fell by 0.1% in January compared with a month earlier, official figures have shown.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) also reported that manufacturing output fell by 0.5% in January from December.

The biggest fall came from the computer, electronic and optical sector where output dived 9.5%, the biggest monthly fall since 2002, the ONS said.

Over the year, industrial production and manufacturing rose 1.3% and 1.9%.

The ONS said UK oil and gas production recovered in January, rising 2.4% compared with a month earlier helped by increased production at North Sea oil and gas fields.

Output in the North Sea in December had been held back by extended maintenance at a number of oil rigs.

Economic impact

Last year, the UK economy was estimated to have grown by 2.6% making it the fastest growing developed economy.

But the ONS said, in the three months to January industrial production and manufacturing remained 10.4% and 4.8% below their pre-recession peak.

Industrial production accounts for almost 15% of the UK economy.

A Treasury spokesman said: "Today's figures from the ONS show manufacturing output grew by 2.6% in the three months to January compared to a year ago.

But the Treasury warned the UK was "not immune to the risks facing the global economy".

Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Global, said while the fall in monthly manufacturing output was disappointing "elevated consumer confidence, markedly improving consumer purchasing power and rising employment should underpin demand for consumer durable goods".

But he also warned the "current strength of the pound will be of some concern to UK manufacturing exporters," particularly given the current weakness of the euro, which fell to a new seven-year low against the pound on Wednesday.

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