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ECONOMIC DATA THIS WEEK

UK Industrial Output, March 2013:  Data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that manufacturing output was lower in April than it was in both March 2013 and a year earlier in April 2012.  However, we prefer to focus on the 3-mnth moving average as this smooths out some of the inevitable lumps in the monthly data.  On this basis, manufacturing output in the last 3 months (February, March and April) was +0.5% higher than in the previous 3 months (November and December 2012 and January 2013), but was -1.2% lower than a year earlier (February, March and April 2012).

Drilling down into the data a little further shows that output of the Capital Goods industries grew by +0.6% on the previous 3 months - about the same as manufacturing as a whole - but was +4.1% larger than a year earlier, making it the only one of the major sub-sectors to have a positive trend on the longer comparison.

Looking further into the detail at the 4 key end-user industries that we track regularly, it is the Motor Vehicle industry that is leading the way with output growing at +3.5% on the previous 3 months and +5.4% on a year earlier;  the Aerospace industry has come off its peak a little (although this is affected by an exceptional month in December) and output fell by -1.5% on the previous 3 months, but was still +7.6% higher than a year ago.  The Machinery industry is also affected by a very strong month in December (which may have more to do with seasonal adjustment than the actual level of activity), but here the fall from the peak levels of output is a little larger with output down by -2.9% on the previous 3 months and is -1.1% lower than a year earlier.  Finally, output in the Metal Products sector is steady, with growth of +0.6% on the previous 3 months, but it is still -0.3% lower than a year ago.

Full details can be found in the ONS Statistical Bulletin and the full dataset, both of which can be downloaded from their web-site at www.ons.gov.uk or requested from MTA.

European GDP, 1st Quarter 2013:  Eurostat has updated its initial estimates for the European economy and now estimates that GDP in the euro-zone fell by -0.2% compared to the final quarter of 2013, with a reduction of -0.1% for the EU27 as a whole.  Compared to the 1st quarter of 2012, euro-zone GDP fell by -1.1%, with the EU27 as a whole falling by -0.7%.  Euro-zone GDP has been negative for six consecutive quarters from Q4-2011, making the second phase of the recession longer, although not as deep, as the first phase which ran for 5 quarters from Q2-2008 to Q2-2009.  The EU27 as a whole is technically in a triple-dip recession having re-set the recession clock with a marginally positive trend in the 3rd quarter of 2012.

Of the Member States for which the data is available, ten countries had a negative trend for quarter-on-quarter growth compared to the 4th period of 2012 and nine of these (Czech Republic, Spain, France, Italy, Cyprus, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and Finland) had also been negative in the 3rd quarter of last year and so can be classified as being in recession (Greece does not publish quarter-on-quarter data, but is clearly also in recession and should be added to this list).

The Eurostat News Release can be downloaded from their web-site at http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/eurostat/home/ or requested from MTA.

European Industrial Output, April 2013:  While manufacturing makes up the bulk of industrial production, it also includes output of the extraction industries (mining, quarrying, oil and gas) and the utilities (power and water).  Data from Eurostat shows an increase of +0.4% compared to March 2013 for the euro-zone and growth of +0.3% for the EU27 as a whole.  Compared to April 2012, industrial production fell by -0.6% in the euro-zone and by -0.8% for the EU27 as a whole.

On the 12-month comparison, output of the Capital Goods sub-sector grew by +1.6% in the euro-zone and by +1.9% for the EU27 as a whole.  Among the Member States for which the data is available, total industrial production fell in 13 and increased in 8;  the strongest growth was in Romania (+12.6%) with the largest reduction being recorded in Finland (-10.2%).

The Eurostat News Release can be downloaded from their web-site at http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/eurostat/home/ or requested from MTA.

UK Trade by Sector, 1st Quarter 22013:  The ONS has published an analysis of the UK’s trade in goods by sector and among the highlights is that almost all of the growth in total exports compared to the 4th quarter of 2013 was in manufactured products which was +£1.4 billion higher at the start of this year.  At the same time, imports of goods in this sector fell by -£1.3 billion, reducing the trade deficit in this sector from -£21.60 billion to -£18.95 billion for the respective quarters.

Picking up the theme of the output data in the earlier article, the UK’s trade deficit in the Motor Vehicle industry was lower than in the previous quarter as a result of exports growing faster than imports;  for Aerospace the trade surplus increased as exports rose while imports decreased.  The Machinery industry saw the trade surplus fall a little as imports increased while exports were virtually unchanged;  in the Metal Products industry there was a small increase in the trade deficit, again as a result of a rise in imports while exports increased only marginally.

Full details can be found in the ONS Statistical Bulletin which can be downloaded from their web-site at www.ons.gov.uk or requested from MTA.

USMTO, April 2013:  The US Manufacturing technology Orders (USMTO) programme tracks orders received in the US market.  In the first four months of 2013, orders are -7.0% lower than in the same period of last year (January to April 2012).  Looking at the regional breakdown which is in the News Release (you can download the USMTO News Release from the AMT web-site at www.amtonline.org or request it from MTA), the negative trend was shared by 4 of the 6 regions with the largest reduction being in the South Central region (-28%);  the only regions to be ahead of where they were at the same stage in 2012 were the West (+9%) and North Central-West (+3%).