The UK’s industrial production rose by 1.1% in December 2012, official figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed today.
The growth was driven by a 1.6% increase manufacturing output, which was higher than analysts’ expectations and followed a 0.3% fall in November.
Compared with December 2011, manufacturing fell by 1.5% while total industrial production was down 1.7%.
David Kern, chief economist at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), commented that the increase seen in December is encouraging but the ONS report confirms a disappointing trend in production over the past year.
Quarterly figures reveal that industrial output in the last three months of the year was 1.9% lower than in the previous quarter – the largest fall since the first quarter of 2009. The drop was partly caused by an extended and later than usual maintenance period at the UK’s largest North Sea oil field and an unplanned shutdown at the Theddlethorpe gas terminal.
Manufacturing output fell by 1.3% between the third and fourth quarters of 2012.
The ONS also released December’s trade figures today, showing that the UK’s trade deficit in goods and services shrank to GBP3.2bn in December 2012, compared with a deficit of GBP3.6bn in November. There was a deficit of GBP8.9bn on goods, which was partly offset by an estimated surplus of GBP5.7bn on services.
According to an analysis by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), looking at the year as a whole the trade deficit in 2012 amounted to GBP37.7bn, a significant increase from the GBP23.6bn deficit in 2011.
Dr Adam Marshall, director of policy and external affairs at the BCC, welcomed the slight improvement in the trade deficit in December but noted that “the global economy is failing to provide any tangible support to the UK’s economic recovery.” He urged the government to do all it can to put international trade at the forefront of its economic strategy.