A drop in construction and industrial production has added to evidence that the UK economy has lost momentum in recent months, but a bounceback in factory output has buoyed hopes for the manufacturing sector.
Official figures released on Friday showed construction output and industrial production decreased in November as UK oil and gas output dropped sharply. But there was more upbeat news on manufacturing and exports that suggested UK companies could weather troubles in their biggest trading partner, the eurozone.
Financial markets focused on the more downbeat indicators, taking them as the latest evidence the economy lost steam in the final months of 2014. The pound lost ground against the dollar as traders bet the Bank of England would be in no hurry to raise interest rates from their record low, given the mixed signals on the economy.
“Disappointing official data are adding to survey evidence which indicate that the rate of UK economic growth slowed towards the end of last year,” said Chris Williamson, chief economist at data analysts Markit.
“Looking at all of the official statistics and survey evidence currently available, the data collectively point to the economy growing 0.5% in the fourth quarter, down from 0.7% in the third quarter,” he added.
The Office for National Statistics said manufacturing output rose by 0.7% in November, reversing October’s fall and beating economists’ expectations for growth of just 0.3%. On the year, output was up 2.7%.
But the wider industrial sector, that also includes utilities, mining and oil and gas production, fell 0.1%. That drop was driven largely by a 5.5% fall in oil and gas output. The ONS said the weakness was partly down to maintenance work at two North Sea oil fields.
via The Guardian
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