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UK December industrial production hit by Forties pipeline closure

By Alexander Bueso

Date: Friday 09 Feb 2018

UK December industrial production hit by Forties pipeline closure

(ShareCast News) - Industrial production sank at the end of last year, but economists were quick to point out that the plunge was entirely due to the shutdown of the North Sea Forties oil pipeline.
Total output shrank by 1.3% month-on-month in December, according to the Office for National Statistics, a moderately greater fall than the 0.9% drop that economists had penciled in.

Nonetheless, while the temporary closure of said pipeline led a to 19.1% plunge in Mining and quarrying production, factory output expanded at a 0.3% pace versus November, just as expected.

Electricity output also increased, rising by 0.9%, while that of Water supply, sewerage and Waste management advanced by 0.6%.

Even so, according to Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, recent survey data from the manufacturing sector suggested that the recovery in industrial output was fading, although "manufacturers will continue to benefit from strong global growth, but they likely will struggle to replicate last year's strong performance."

In parallel, higher oil prices were impacting on demand and the favourable tailwind from Sterling's depreciation was beginning to subside.

In terms of quarterly rates of change, industrial production was 0.5% higher over the three months to the end of December, which was one tenth of a percentage point less than over the prior three-month stretch.

Even so, economists were in agreement that Friday's data would not lead to a downward revision to ONS's preliminary estimate of fourth quarter GDP growth of 0.5% quarter-on-quarter.

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