Pound boosted as UK industry revives after slow summer
October 7, 2015, 1:07 pm

UK manufacturing picked up by 0.5% in August after a July slump, the Office For National Statistics said on Wednesday.

Car plants came back online after summer shutdowns and industrial output rebounded, the ONS said.

Following the news, the pound rose to its highest level in two weeks against the dollar, briefly moving above $1.53.

But compared with August last year, the UK`s manufacturing output was still down 0.8%.

Taken over a three-month period, which tends to smooth out volatility in the monthly figures, manufacturing fell 0.9% compared with the previous three months.

July had seen a sharp monthly fall of 0.7% in output as car makers shut down plants early for the summer.

As a result, the 0.5% rebound in August took economists by surprise. The average forecast was for a modest 0.3% rise.

Surveys

At the beginning of this month, surveys from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) and Markit said confidence among UK manufacturers was "low", export growth was falling and jobs were being lost.

But other figures also showed that UK productivity rose in the second quarter at its fastest rate in four years - all factors that the Bank of England`s Monetary Policy Committee will assess on Thursday when it meets to debate whether to keep interest rates at a record low.

Most economists now expect a rise to come some time early in 2016.

Wednesday`s data showed that overall industrial output, which includes the UK`s oil and gas sector, was still 1.9% higher than a year earlier.

Oil and gas extraction accounted for the biggest jump in production, but as with the car sector, it was helped by companies carrying out maintenance and shutdowns a month earlier in July.

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