Britain's industrial sector declined for the second consecutive month, after output suffered an unexpected slowdown in February, official data released on Friday (6 April) showed.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), manufacturing production fell 0.1% in February from the month before, compared with an upwardly revised 1% decline recorded in the previous month and analysts' expectations for a 0.3% increase.
On a year-on-year basis, production rose 3.3%, falling short of forecast for a 3.9% gain, but beating the previous month's 2.6% reading.
The ONS added output declined in all four main sectors, with electricity and gas providing the largest downward contribution, decreasing by 3.4%, largely because of unusually warm weather during the month.
Meanwhile, overall industrial production – a broader gauge of the industry – fell 0.7% in February compared with analysts' expectations for growth to increase to 0.2%. January's 0.4% decline was revised slightly upward, to a 0.3% drop. The figure marked the second consecutive month of decline.
On an annual basis, meanwhile, industrial production rose 2.8% from the corresponding period in the previous year, compared with an upwardly revised 3.3% increase in the previous month and forecast for a 3.7% increase.
The ONS added output increased across three of the four main sectors, with manufacturing providing the largest contribution.
"It is clear that industry does not have the momentum required to offset the consumer-led slowdown in the services sector this year," said Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.
A report released earlier this week showed the latest Markit manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) fell to a four-month low of 54.2 in March, slowing down from 54.6 in the previous month and missing expectations for a 55 reading.