The UK’s manufacturing output recorded a 1.0% monthly decline in February, the biggest decrease for ten months, official figures showed today.
A new report released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) also showed that February’s output dropped by 1.4% compared with the same month last year. Economists had expected a rise of 0.1% for both the monthly and yearly measures.
The ONS also revised its figures for manufacturing output in January to show a reduction of 0.3%, compared with the previously published 0.1% rise.
Other reports on the economy carried out by private sector firms have painted a brighter picture, with growth in manufacturing and services.
Markit’s EU Productivity PMI (Purchasing Managers’ Index), also released today, shows that output per worker continued to rise in the European Union during March and the strongest overall rise in labour productivity across the 27 member countries was registered in the UK private sector. Both service providers and manufacturers in the EU recorded productivity gains during March, Markit reported.
In an interview with the BBC, Chris Williamson from Markit commented that the monthly ONS figures tend to be quite volatile and there is a chance they will be revised upwards at a later date. He also noted that the ONS’s three-month on three-month figures show a 0.2% increase in manufacturing which may be a better reflection of the longer term trend.
As a whole, the UK economy is expected to show slight growth for the first quarter of 2012.