UK industrial production grew marginally again in March, while manufacturing output dropped for the second straight month.
Industrial output rose 0.1 percent month-on-month in March, the same pace of increase as seen in February, figures from the Office for National Statistics showed Thursday. Output was expected to gain 0.2 percent.
Meanwhile, manufacturing output dropped 0.1 percent after easing 0.2 percent a month ago. Economists had forecast production to fall 0.2 percent in March.
Energy supply provided the biggest upward contribution to industrial output, rising 2.6 percent, due to lower than average temperature in both February and March.
On a yearly basis, growth in industrial output improved to 2.9 percent in March from 2.1 percent in February. Nonetheless, this was slower than the forecast of 3.1 percent.
At the same time, manufacturing output advanced 2.9 percent annually, in line with expectations, and faster than February’s 2.5 percent increase.
Due to the adverse weather, construction output contracted 2.3 percent month-on-month in March, bigger than the 1 percent fall in February. In the first quarter, construction output slid 2.7 percent, the biggest since second quarter of 2012.
March’s activity figures did little to support suspicions that the overall economy grew a bit more quickly in the first quarter than the preliminary GDP figures suggest, Ruth Gregory, an economist at Capital Economics, said.
Against this weak backdrop, it is hard to see the Bank of England hiking interest rates on Thursday, the economist added.
In a separate communique, the ONS said the visible trade deficit widened notably to GBP 12.28 billion in March from GBP 10.4 billion in February.
This was the biggest deficit since November and larger than the expected GBP 11.3 billion shortfall.
The total trade deficit, including goods and services, widened to GBP 3.09 billion in March from GBP 1.17 billion in February.