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UK manufacturing output picks up in July

UK Business 2017/09/08 at 9:00 PM

The UK’s manufacturing output grew at the fastest pace this year in July, according to official figures.

Output rose by 0.5% in the month, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said, as car production rebounded after declining in June.

Recent surveys of the manufacturing sector have suggested that it is seeing a pick-up in orders and output.

However, separate figures from the ONS indicated that there was little change in the UK’s trade deficit during July.

The trade deficit in goods and services was barely changed at £2.872bn, while the deficit in goods widened slightly to £11.576bn, compared with June’s downwardly revised figure of £11.527bn.

‘Subdued’ year

A recent survey suggested growth in the manufacturing sector was accelerating, with output, orders and employment all picking up.

In addition, earlier this week a study by the manufacturing body EEF said the sector was enjoying “buoyant conditions”, with export markets going from “strength to strength”.

The weakness of the pound – which makes products cheaper for buyers from abroad – has raised hopes of a boost to UK exports.

Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit said the rebound in manufacturing output shown by the ONS data added to “hopes that rising goods production will act as a prop to the economy and help counter slower consumer spending in the second half of the year”.

Despite the improvement in manufacturing output in July, the ONS figures showed the wider measure of industrial output rose by just 0.2%, slowing from June’s increase of 0.5%.

Kate Davies, ONS senior statistician, said manufacturing had remained “relatively subdued since the start of the year, though July showed the first significant monthly growth of 2017, with car production increasing partly thanks to new models rolling off the production lines”.

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