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Output in the UK’s industrial sector contracted more severely than expected in March after a particularly sharp pullback in manufacturing production.

The manufacturing sector had been a bright spot amid fears of a wider growth slowdown in recent months, as a weaker currency helped to make British products more competitive against foreign competitors. However, the ONS today revised its earlier estimate of a 0.3 per cent quarterly increase in industrial production to 0.1 per cent.

The pound erased its early gains after the disappointing data were released, and at publication time was 0.16 per cent weaker for the day at $1.2915.

Manufacturing production declined by 0.6 per cent in March, worse than the 0.2 per cent decline predicted by economists. The fall brought year on year growth in the sector down to 2.3 per cent, from 3.3 per cent the previous month.

Overall industrial production, which accounts for around 15 per cent of the UK’s economic output, fell by 0.5 per cent over the month, but was still 1.4 per cent higher than 12 months ago.

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