UK industrial production growth eased more-than-expected on weak mining and manufacturing output in February, the Office for National Statistics said Wednesday.
Industrial output edged up 0.1 percent month-on-month in February, compared to January’s 1.3 percent increase. Production was expected to climb 0.4 percent.
Manufacturing output dropped 0.2 percent, confounding expectations for a growth of 0.2 percent. This was the first decrease since March 2017. Output had remained flat in January.
Output of mining and quarrying sector decreased 2.7 percent and oil and gas extraction fell 3.2 percent.
February’s activity data added to the evidence that the economy lost a little pace in the first quarter, Ruth Gregory, an economist at Capital Economics, said.
However, the soft-patch in the first quarter will prove temporary and should not prevent the next interest rate hike coming in May, the economist noted.
Elsewhere, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research said UK’s economic growth eased in the first quarter as severe weather disrupted activity across major sectors in March.
According to the monthly estimates of GDP, output growth eased to 0.2 percent in the first quarter from 0.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017, the think tank said.
ONS data today showed that growth in industrial production accelerated to 2.2 percent in February from 1.2 percent in January. Nonetheless, this was slower than the expected 2.9 percent.
At the same time, manufacturing output growth improved to 2.5 percent from 2.2 percent a month ago. Economists had forecast a faster 3.3 percent growth for February.
Another report from ONS showed that construction output shrank 1.6 percent on month in February, stemming from a 9.4 percent fall in infrastructure new work.
The ONS said construction output fell 3 percent year-on-year in February, the biggest month-on-year fall since March 2013.
Separately, the ONS said the visible trade deficit narrowed to a 5-month low of GBP 10.2 billion in February from GBP 12.2 billion in January.
In the same period of 2017, the visible trade gap totaled GBP 10.9 billion. The expected level of deficit was GBP 11.9 billion.
The total trade deficit, including goods and services, declined notably to GBP 965 million from GBP 2.95 billion in January.