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Deficit grows amid fears of slowdown

By Ravender Sembhy

The manufacturing and construction sectors contracted in March and the trade deficit widened as the economy continued to falter.

Data from the Office for National Statistics showed manufacturing output fell 0.6%, construction dipped 0.7% and industrial output slumped 0.5%, its third straight monthly decline.

The figures pointed to a further slowdown for the economy following the decision to leave the EU.

The trade deficit in goods and services widened by £2.3bn between February and March to £4.9bn, contributing nearly half of the quarterly deficit, which also grew by £5.7bn to £10.5 bn.

Sterling slumped on the news, with the pound falling 0.1% to 1.29 US dollars.

Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said: "March's industrial production figures show that the pressure on consumers' real incomes from rising inflation is beginning to hurt manufacturers."

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