Figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that manufacturing production in the UK fell by 0.7% in April, even after widespread expectation that it would grow slightly or at least remain the same.
After industry analysts’ predictions gathered from a poll conducted by Dow Jones Newswires suggested that most people expected an increase in output of 0.1% in April, the figures have come as a shock.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) also broke the news that manufacturing output had fallen by 0.3% compared to the same time last year. Furthermore, the latest Markit/CIPS manufacturing PMI survey fell to a negative of 45.9 in May from a downwardly revised 50.2 in April. This is the lowest reading since May 2009 and the second most sharp fall in the 20 years since the survey has been running.
The sleet of bad news is worrying, and is also yet more bad news for the Government, as the economy is in recession – shrinking by 0.3% in the first three months of this year and by the same amount in the final quarter of 2011.
The ONS excludes the electricity, gas and water supply sectors along with mining from its definition of manufacturing output.