UK manufacturing returns to growth in March but industrial output falls

UK manufacturing output rose again in March, showing an increase of 0.9% after a fall of 1.1% in February, according to the latest Index of Production released today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Month-on-month growth was registered in eight manufacturing sub-sectors, including chemicals, transport equipment and electronics, while four sub-sectors, including wood and paper products manufacturing, recorded a decrease and one was flat.

Philip Shaw from specialist bank and asset manager Investec, quoted by the BBC, said it was encouraging to see that manufacturing in March almost recovered its February losses. He noted however that, looking at the first quarter as a whole, the sector remains flat.

The ONS’s wider measure of industrial production decreased by 0.3% in March, with reductions seen in oil and gas production and mining and quarrying.

Year-on-year comparisons reveal that manufacturing output was 0.9% lower in March 2012 than in March 2011. Seven manufacturing sub-sectors declined, including food, drink & tobacco and rubber & plastic products, while six sub-sectors increased, led by transport equipment manufacturing.

Similarly, industrial production fell by 2.6% in March 2012 compared with March 2011, the 13th consecutive decrease in this metric, with the last rise seen in February 2011.