There was further evidence that the UK may avoid an unprecedented triple-dip as
data showed factory output rose in February. However,
trade figures were worse-than-expected.
On the month, February 2013 compared with January 2013,
the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said both production and
manufacturing rose by 1.0% and 0.8% respectively. All sectors rose during this
period - - this last happened in July 2012. Despite the increase in production the
index is still only, though, the same level as in September 2012.
Both production and manufacturing fell in February 2013 when compared with
February 2012 by 2.2% and 1.4% respectively. There are downward contributions
from all sectors with manufacturing and mining & quarrying the most significant.
The ONS said these estimates for the production industries are the first of the main
components for the output measure of GDP (construction and services are the
other components) to be published for February 2013, the second month of quarter
one 2013. All the components are already available for January 2013, the service
industries (77% of the output measure of GDP) were estimated to have increased
by 0.3% between December 2012 and January 2013, compared with a revised fall of
1.3% in production and 6.3% (non-seasonally adjusted) in construction.
The UK's trade deficit in goods widened to £9.41bn in February, from £8.17bn the
previous month, according to the ONS, as exports to countries outside the
European Union slid by 4.7%. Despite the troubles in the Eurozone,
the UK's exports to the EU were slightly up, rising 0.6% last month.
The ONS said that due to the volatility of the monthly trade figures, it is not easy to discern
trends for a single month.
For that purpose it is necessary to look at data over rather longer periods. In
the latest three months,
trade in goods was in deficit by £26.3 billion, £0.5 billion less than in the
preceding three months,
but £1.8 billion higher than a year earlier. Exports to the EU in value fell by
5.2% between the latest
three months and the same three months a year earlier, while to the rest of the
world they were
0.6% higher. This was, however a period in which trade prices have generally
In terms of
volume, exports to the rest of the EU were 3.1% lower in the three months to
February, while exports
to the rest of the world increased by 1.3% in the same period.
By EU country, exports to Belgium and Germany by value held up better than
exports to other
member states in February. In the same period, imports from the Netherlands rose
due to an
increase in trade in gas. This rise was primarily offset by a fall in imports of
oil from Denmark.
Outside the EU, exports to the United States fell but exports to South Korea and
China both rose.
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