British industrial output decreased by 0.1% in January from sturdier figures for December 2014, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Manufacturing output was also down by 0.5% in January as production of things like computer, electronic & optical equipment experienced a dip.

Output had been boosted in December by a big public sector defence contract, reported Reuters.

Lee Hopley, chief economist at EEF, said: "The fall shouldn't be of concern, as other business surveys point to positive underlying momentum in manufacturing. However, there is a strong degree of sectoral divergence which is very much an oil and gas story.

"Whereas those sectors in the supply chain – such as mechanical and electrical equipment sectors – have seen output fall as investment projects have been cancelled or postponed. Those which use oil products as an input to production such as chemicals and rubber and plastics have enjoyed a boost."

However, the UK experienced a reasonable recovery over the whole of 2014: the ONS figures show that total production output increased by 1.3% between January 2014 and January 2015, buoyed by a 1.9% rise in manufacturing output over the period.

The key points of the ONS Index of Production for January 2015 were:

  • Total production output is estimated to have increased by 1.3% in January 2015 compared with January 2014. There were increases in two of the four main sectors, with manufacturing output being the largest contributor, increasing by 1.9%.
  • There were increases in eight of the 13 manufacturing sub-sectors compared with a year ago and the largest contributor was the manufacture of transport equipment, increasing by 6.1%.
  • Total production output decreased by 0.1% in January 2015 compared with December 2014. There were increases in two of the main sectors, with mining & quarrying output being the largest contributor, increasing by 2.0%.
  • Manufacturing output decreased by 0.5% in January 2015 compared with December 2014. The main components contributing to this decrease were the manufacture of computer, electronic & optical products; the manufacture of machinery & equipment not elsewhere classified; and the manufacture of food, beverages & tobacco.
  • In the three months to January 2015, production and manufacturing were 10.4% and 4.8% respectively below their figures reached in the pre-downturn GDP peak in Q1 2008.
  • In this release, periods back to January 2014 were open for revision, in line with the National Accounts revisions policy. There was minimal impact on previously published GDP estimates resulting from revisions to these periods.