Output and trade - 2013 round up

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ONS published full year statistics for manufacturing output and trade today.

  • Manufacturing output fell 0.6% in 2013.
  • Growth was reported in three out of four quarters.
  • The headline fall conceals sector growth ranging from 8.8% in transport to an 11.6% fall in mechanical equipment.

The overall production figures for 2013 were a touch weaker than indicated in last month's GDP release. Growth in December came in a bit weaker than the earlier estimate suggested and there were some revisions to output earlier in the year.

However, the quarterly profile of growth across the sector last year does look consistent with the survey data, including EEF's Business Trends Survey. Taking expectations from our survey and the early PMI indications for 2014 so far we should expect the positive profile of out to roll forward into 2014q1. Our latest forecasts point to growth of 0.6% across manufacturing in the first three months of this year.

Exports up in 2013

We did see more positive numbers on 2013 on goods trade, which was up 1.3% on the year. Not bad, but not good enough if we're aiming for £1 trillion of total exports by the end of the decade. Sales to both EU and Non-EU markets also rose on the year, by 1.4% and 1.2% respectively.

Over the course of last year there have, however, been a couple of interesting shift in the destination of UK goods exports. While our nine biggest markets are unchanged the growth areas have clearly been China, India and the United Arab Emirates. And growth in exports to Europe conceal a patchy performance by individaul markets with falls in sales to Germany and Belgium, being more than made up for by increased exports to Ireland and France.

    • US tops the table with exports of £40.9bn in 2013.
    • UAE enters UK top export markets at number 10.
    • China remains one of the fastest growing export destinations with growth of 18% last year.

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Chief Economist

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