Factory output up

06-12-2007

Factory output up
Manufacturing output in October exceeded analyst expectations, according to official figures released today.

Reports suggested the higher-than-expected rise could weaken the case for an interest rate cut, with the production data released publicly ahead of the announcement of the Bank of England's latest rate decision at noon.

Manufacturing output increased by 0.3 per cent between September and October, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) confirmed.

The increase, which followed a 0.6 per cent monthly drop reported for September, was driven by higher production in the transport equipment and aircraft industries.

Overall, nine of the 13 manufacturing sub-sectors increased output during October, with four reporting a decrease.

Total industrial production, which includes energy output, also rose more than expected in October – climbing by 0.4 per cent over the month.

Mining and quarrying output increased by 2.5 per cent, with the ONS reporting large increases in both oil and gas extraction as capacity returned to more normal levels following prolonged maintenance and repair work carried out in August and September.

Commenting on the data, Global Insight chief economist Howard Archer said: "For now at least, the manufacturing sector appears to be showing ongoing resilience in the face of the credit crunch, recent extended strength of the pound, higher interest rates, elevated oil prices and concern over slowing global growth.

"However, it does seem highly likely that these factors will increasingly weigh down on manufacturers over the coming months," he warned.

Mr Archer said despite the "resilience" of manufacturing output in October, the Bank of England was likely to trim the UK's benchmark interest rate from its current level of 5.75 per cent - amid increasing signs of an economic downturn.

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