Manufacturing weathering the winter storms

Manufacturing seems to have been less badly hit by the cold winter months than other sectors of the economy, according to the Bank of England. Output from factories increased by 1% between December and January, compared to a reduction of 0.1% from November to December, based on Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures. This meant that production increased by the highest figure in ten months and the index of manufacturing reached its highest figure since October of 2008. The average forecast had been for a 0.6% rise.

The Bank of England added that growth in exports was partly responsible for the improvement, although manufacturers still needed support through a difficult period.

Ross Walker of RBS commented that export was the way to go, provided fiscal conditions continued to ease, which in turn would lead to improved exchange rates.

There was growth in ten manufacturing sectors and a decline in only three between December and January, led by man-made fibres, mineral products and chemicals. In the last year, the manufacturing sector has grown by nearly 7%, the biggest rise in 17 years, and industrial output in total rose 0.5% in a month and over 4% for the year.