Hopes of an end to Britain’s recession woes were dashed when official figures showed that the manufacturing sector suffered a shock fall in output during April.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed a 0.7 drop in manufacturing output between March and April - an unexpected disappointment after the 0.9 per cent rise the previous month.
Wider industrial production output remained unchanged in April, but this was largely helped by a boost from energy output caused by the cold weather as Britons turned up the central heating.
Richard Halstead, Midlands director for manufacturing lobby group EEF, said: “After a flat start to the year April’s drop in output is disappointing and despite the fall coming on the back of a large uptick in March this still leaves production hovering around levels seen at the end of 2010.
“Monthly volatility in the data isn’t surprising given the continuing uncertainty in world markets and is likely to be feeding into lumpy and less predictable order flows.
“But at a sector level we continue to see both strengths and weaknesses.
“Aerospace, mechanical equipment and electronics all showed strong growth on the month, but not enough to offset particularly sharp falls in sectors such as pharmaceuticals and food.”
The data is expected to reinforce demands for the Bank of England to increase quantitative easing (QE) to help the UK’s ailing economy.
Alan Clarke, economist at Scotiabank, said the chilly weather saved the UK from an industrial production “bloodbath”.