INDUSTRIAL output slowed further at the end of last year, hurt by maintenance work on North Sea oil and gas fields, adding to signs that Britain’s economic recovery lost some pace as 2014 came to a close.
Industrial output fell by a monthly 0.2 per cent in December, compared with economists’ average forecast of a 0.1 per cent rise, after no change in November, the Office for National Statistics said yesterday.
Prime Minister David Cameron has said he wants Britain to be more export-oriented, but weakness in the eurozone has left it largely reliant on consumer demand.
For the fourth quarter as a whole, industrial output was up 0.1 per cent, stronger than the 0.1 per cent decline the ONS had pencilled into its preliminary estimate of fourth-quarter gross domestic product growth.
But the ONS said that the revision was not big enough to point towards an upward revision to GDP growth of 0.5 per cent when a second estimate of fourth-quarter GDP is published on February 26. Britain’s economy grew by 2.6 per cent in 2014, the fastest growth rate of any big advanced economy, but lost pace towards the end of the year, including in the manufacturing sector which is exposed to weakening demand in the eurozone.
Since then, however, there have been signs that the fall in world oil prices has given a fresh boost to growth. Earlier yesterday, an economic think tank said Britain’s economy was on track for its strongest growth in nearly 10 years in 2015.