UK industrial output weaker than expected

A steel works Image copyright AFP/Getty Images

The UK's industrial output rose by much less than expected in April, according to official data.

Output rose by just 0.2% in the month, much lower than the 0.8% increase forecast by economists.

Manufacturing output - a key component of overall industrial output - grew by 0.2%, which was also much weaker than expected.

Separate figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed the UK's trade deficit narrowed in April.

The goods trade deficit with the rest of the world narrowed to £10.4bn from £12bn in March, which was mainly due to a sharp fall in imports.

The overall trade deficit - covering goods and services - narrowed to £2,1bn in April from £3.9bn the month before.

Sluggish growth

The ONS said that in the three months to April industrial output was down by 1.2%, driven by falls in energy and manufacturing.

That backs up the picture of the UK economy losing momentum in the first few months of the year.

Last month, the ONS estimated that the economy grew by just 0.2% in the first three months of 2017.

That made the UK the worst performer among the G7 nations in the first quarter of the year after outpacing them in 2016.

The ONS said the first-quarter slowdown was partly due to consumer-focused industries suffering as people cut back their spending in the face of accelerating inflation.

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