Business

UK industrial output growth at six-month high

Welder Image copyright PA

UK industrial output grew at its fastest pace for six months in March, official figures have shown.

Output rose by 0.5% from a month earlier, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

The narrower measure of manufacturing output rose 0.4% month-on-month, with February's figure revised up to 0.5%.

Manufacturers' body the EEF said the government must keep funding "important levers of growth", including research, innovation and export support.

'Surge'

"Industrial production had been hit in recent months by declines in oil and gas production," said Martin Beck, senior economic advisor to the EY Item Club.

"However, March broke away from this theme. Growth in industrial output saw the best performance since September and is well above the consensus of flat output.

"The month's rise was driven partly by a surge in oil and gas production, the strongest since February 2014."

Manufacturing output was boosted by pharmaceutical products and preparations, other manufacturing and repair, and rubber and plastics.

On a year-on-year basis, total production output was estimated to have increased by 0.7% in March 2015 compared with March 2014.

There were increases in two of the four main industrial sectors, with manufacturing output being up by 1.1%.

On a quarterly basis, total production output was estimated to have risen by 0.1% between the October to December 2014 period and the January to March 2015 quarter.

The ONS said that manufacturing, the largest component of production, was also estimated to have increased by 0.1% between these periods.

Meanwhile, a separate report from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) said its monthly estimates of UK GDP suggested that output grew by 0.4% in the three months ending in April after growth of 0.3% in the three months to March.

"We expect the slight softening of GDP growth experienced in the first quarter of this year to be temporary and forecast the UK economy will expand by 2.5% for the year as a whole," it added.

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