Belfast Telegraph

Slowdown 'points to UK economy stalling'

By Ravender Sembhy

The UK's industrial production grew by 0.3% in March, with the manufacturing sector growing 0.1%, figures have revealed.

Year on year, manufacturing production fell 1.9%, the biggest fall since 2013, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The figures came in below economists' expectations and add to a spate of data indicating that the British economy is stalling.

Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit, said: "Producers are being squeezed by a combination of weak global demand as well as waning sales in the home market, the latter in some cases linked to decision-making and purchases by customers being affected by Brexit uncertainty."

Total production fell 0.4% over the first quarter, and manufacturing also slumped 0.4% quarter on quarter.

However, the ONS left its first quarter economic growth estimate unchanged at 0.4% and Mr Williamson added: "The goods-producing sector therefore looks to be on course to act as a drag on the economy again in the second quarter, contributing to a slowing in economic growth to near-stagnation.

"Growth could be even weaker if surveys disappoint in coming months, which seems probable given the intensifying uncertainty over the outcome of the EU referendum."

The ONS said Britain's trade gap in the first three months of the year widened to its biggest since the financial crisis, growing to £13.3bn from £12.2bn in the last three months of 2015.

Belfast Telegraph

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