A bit of a bumper day for manufacturing data today. Here are five things we’ve learnt.
Manufacturing output down over the quarter, but some monthly positives
ONS confirmed that manufacturing output fell in Q3, but this was largely due to weakness in July, when output fell 0.7%. When comparing September 2015 with August 2015, manufacturing is estimated to have increased by 0.8%, the largest monthly rise since April 2014. This followed on from a slightly smaller increase in output of 0.4% in August 2015.
Metals and mechanical are seeing the weakest performance
Over the quarter, the metals and mechanical equipment sectors saw the weakest performance. Both sectors have been affected by the decline in investment from North Sea oil and gas, as well as a slowdown in global demand. The metals number also reflects the recent troubles facing steel manufacturers, with iron & steel output tumbling 13.7% over the quarter.
Chemicals is a stand-out performer
The chemicals sector has been putting in a solid performance and posted 6% growth compared with the same quarter a year ago. The sector is also entirely responsible for a £0.6bn improvement in the UK’s exports in September.
Exports to China are looking very weak
Although exports of goods increased by £0.6bn in September 2015, the underlying picture for exports shows several areas of weakness, not least China. In fact exports to China took an almighty fall, dropping by a third over the quarter.
Other exports markets also struggling somewhat
China wasn’t the only export market that showed signs of weakness over the quarter, exports to the US were down 9%, exports to France were down 8% and exports to Germany were down 6%.