UK manufacturing output rises 0.9% in March

Mini plant, Oxford Manufacturing bounced back in March from a steep drop in February

UK manufacturing output bounced back in March, figures show, but overall industrial output fell.

Manufacturing output rose by a stronger-than-expected 0.9%, after a fall of 1.1% in February.

Sectors including chemicals, transport equipment, computer and electronics were behind the recovery according to the Office for National Statistics.

The wider measure of industrial production fell 0.3%, due to a drop in oil and gas production.

"It's encouraging to see that manufacturing almost recovered its February loses in March, although taken over Q1 [the first quarter] as a whole, the sector remains flat," said Philip Shaw from Investec.

"The outlook for manufacturing has been clouded by differing messages from varying surveys. So for example the CBI quarterly survey was punchy but the most recent PMI [purchasing managers' index] figures suggest the sector is doing barely anything," he said.

Andrew Johnson, senior economist at the EEF manufacturers' organisation, said the data "suggests manufacturing is in a better position at the start of this year than it was at the end of 2011".

"However, the challenges clearly remain formidable, especially with regard to major European markets," he added.

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