U.K. industrial output grew slightly in April for the first time this year, data showed Friday, but it fell short of analysts' expectations, suggesting the economy rebounded only moderately as it entered the second quarter.
In monthly terms, industrial production grew 0.2% in April, the Office for National Statistics said. This was significantly below the 1.0% growth seen in a Wall Street Journal poll.
The expansion was driven by an increase in energy production and stronger factory output. However, manufacturing grew only 0.2% on the month, also disappointing market expectations.
Decreasing output in the water supply, mining and quarrying industries curbed the overall industrial production growth figure, the ONS said.
Compared with the same month last year, industrial output was down 0.8%, missing market expectations of slight growth. Annual growth in manufacturing also disappointed, with factory output remaining flat, defying a forecast of moderate expansion.
On a somewhat brighter note, ONS data showed that the U.K.'s overall trade deficit narrowed in April, and stood at 2.1 billion pounds ($2.7 billion) compared with GBP3.9 billion the previous month.
The trade deficit in goods also narrowed, the ONS said, but this was driven largely by falling imports, particularly those of mechanical machinery, cars and oil.
The U.K. economy slowed more sharply than first thought in the first quarter, according to the most recent estimate, a warning sign on growth ahead of the start of Brexit talks with the European Union.
As accelerating inflation squeezes consumer spending--for years a key engine of U.K. growth--economists say production and trade will have to make a bigger contribution to stave off an economic slowdown in the future.
-Write to Wiktor Szary at Wiktor.Szary@wsj.com
Corrections & Amplifications
This was corrected at 1035 GMT because the original misstated currency conversion in 6th paragraph. Should read $2.7 billion insteaad of $26.7 billion.
"U.K. Industrial Output Growth Weaker Than Expected," at 0850GMT, misstated currency conversion in 6th paragraph. Should read $2.7 billion
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
June 09, 2017 06:23 ET (10:23 GMT)