UK manufacturers posted a seventh consecutive month of expansion in November as sectors from food producers to makers of games and sports equipment increased output.
Factory output rose 0.4 percent from October, the Office for National Statistics said. Overall industrial production also increased 0.4 percent, with a drop in temperatures boosting demand for energy.
Separate figures show construction output climbed 0.4 percent, and the trade deficit widened to 2.8 billion pounds. Manufacturers are enjoying the longest run of uninterrupted growth since 1997 thanks to a broad-based global upswing, particularly in the euro area, which buys half of British exports.
It means industrial production, which accounts for 14 percent of GDP, almost certainly contributed to growth in the final quarter of 2017. Output rose by 1.2 percent in the latest three months, with manufacturing increasing 1.4 percent. Ten out of 13 manufacturing sectors posted increased in November. A weak spot was car production, which plunged by 7.1 percent after strong foreign demand in recent months.
But the smaller construction sector appears on course to shrink for a third straight quarter after a 1.1 percent decline in October, leaving industry executives pinning their hopes on budget initiatives announced by Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond to boost homebuilding and get young people onto the property ladder.
The economy’s performance in 2018 will depend on the dominant services industry, which has come under pressure from inflation-squeezed consumers. The trade figures show exports of goods and services rose by 0.6 percent and imports gained 1.6 percent.