Source: The Telegraph
UK industry “boomed back to life” towards the end of last year, putting the economy on course to maintain the strong pace of growth enjoyed in the aftermath of the Brexit vote.
Industrial production rose by 2.1pc in November compared with October, driven by strong manufacturing output and the reopening of the North Sea’s biggest oil field following a shutdown.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said manufacturing output increased by 1.3pc month-on-month in November, driven by growth in pharmaceuticals, which saw double-digit growth.
Economists at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research said the data put the economy on course to grow by 0.5pc in the final three months of 2016, following growth of 0.6pc in the quarter to September.
This would mean the economy expanded by 2pc last year, which is only slightly weaker than the 2.2pc growth seen in 2015.
Alan Clarke, an economist at Scotiabank, said November’s “boom” in industrial output would help to reverse October’s “poor start” and drive the economy towards an expansion of “at least” 0.5pc in the final quarter of 2016.
However, statisticians described some of the industrial data as “volatile”, while separate figures showed construction output fell by a monthly 0.2pc, against expectations for a rise of 0.2pc.
Official trade data also showed Britain’s trade deficit widened by £2.6bn in November compared with the previous month, to £4.2bn.
This was mainly due to a £3.3bn increase in imports, which was only partially offset by a £0.7bn rise in exports.
Kate Davies, a senior statistician at the ONS, described Wednesday’s data as “paint[ing] a mixed picture of the UK’s economic performance”.
However, Paul Hollingsworth, an economist at Capital Economics, highlighted that the three-month growth rate of goods exports returned to positive territory in November, while growth in import volumes slowed.
“This tentatively suggests that net trade may have made a positive contribution to GDP growth in the final quarter.
“So, overall, the latest figures suggest that economic growth has maintained pace, and is starting to become better balanced.