Industry shows strong first quarter

Manufacturers made a stronger start to the year than expected but remain under pressure to raise selling prices, according to new data.

The Office for National Statistics says manufacturers̵7; input prices rose 1.7 per cent between Jan­uary and February, taking the annual rate of increase to 19.4 per cent ̵1; the highest since records began in 1986.

Output prices rose 0.3 per cent, less than expected but keeping the annual rate of factory-gate inflation at a 16-year high of 5.7 per cent.

The figures illustrate the inflationary pressures stemming from higher oil prices and a weaker pound.

Output growth appears to be slowing less than feared, which could make the Bank of England disinclined to cut interest rates again before it has more evidence that lower demand will check inflationary pressures.

Manufacturing output rose 0.4 per cent in January, the ONS said, stronger than analysts forecast and unchanged quarter-on-quarter.

In the wider industrial sector, a 0.1 per cent month-on-month dip in output was largely caused by weaker output in the oil and gas extraction industries.

Image: Manufacturers' input prices reached their highest level since 1986 during January and February

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