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Economic News


UK Manufacturing Output, April 2017: The headlines in the data published this week by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that manufacturing output in the latest 3 months (February, March and April 2017) was -0.7% lower than in the previous 3 months (November and December 2016 and January 2017), although a large chunk of this was a significant reduction in output of Pharmaceuticals (which is often a volatile industry).  Compared to the same period a year ago (February, March and April 2016), manufacturing output increased by +1.7%.

At the sub-sector level, output of Capital Goods in the latest 3 months grew by +0.4% compared to the previous 3 months and by +4.2% over the level of a year earlier.  This was the only one of the sub-sectors where output grew in the short-term comparison and had the strongest growth compared to last year.

There is more good news at the industry level with growth compared to 3 months earlier of +2.4% for the Machinery industry, +2.2% in Aerospace (which reached a new record high in April) and +0.9% for the Automotive industry.  Comparing the latest 3 months with a year earlier, the growth rates were +6.1%, +6.0% and +5.8% respectively.

With the recovery in the Machinery industry, the weak spot among our main customer sectors has shifted to the Metal products industry;  this saw output in the latest 3 months fall by -2.3% compared to the previous 3 months and by -1.7% on the same period a year earlier.

You can download the ONS Statistical Bulletin from their web-site at or request it from MTA;  we also have an analysis of the key industries which is available to members - please contact Geoff Noon ( if you would like these charts.

European Industrial Production, April 2017:  Eurostat data on industrial production has also been released this week and it showed total industrial production was in the Euro-zone +0.5% higher than in March, with growth of +0.2% for the EU28.  Compared to April 2016, total industrial production (which includes extraction and utilities as well as manufacturing) increased by +1.4% for both the Euro-zone and the EU28.

The picture in Europe is different from the UK (where capital goods was the strongest sub-sector), although because this release focuses on monthly data rather than moving 3 month blocks, it can be more volatile.  In the Euro-zone, output of capital goods fell by -0.7% compared to March, but was +1.0% higher than in April 2016;  for the EU28 as a whole, capital goods output was -0.8% lower than in March, but +1.7% higher than a year earlier.

Using the 12-month comparison, of the 25 Member States for whom the data is published, total industrial production increased in 18 and declined in 7 (including the UK);  the most rapid increases were in Latvia (+9.6%) and Estonia (+9.5%), while the greatest reductions were in Luxembourg (-3.3%) and Slovenia (-3.2%).

You can access the Eurostat News Release via their web-site at or request it from MTA.

USMTO and US CTMR, April 2017:  The US Manufacturing Technology Orders (USMTO) programme tracks orders received in the US market - the data in this report are based on the actual totals reported by companies participating in the USMTO programme.  For the first 4 months of 2017, orders grew by +2.1% compared to the same period (January to April) of 2016.

The overall trends have only been published for 4 of the 6 regions used in the USMTO report, with growth in two areas (South-Central at +56% - this is the smallest region - and West at +16%), with a decline in the other two areas (North-Central-West at -14% and North East at -8%).  In the other two regions (South-East and North-Central-East), the data for metal cutting equipment shows a broadly flat trend compared to the first 4 months of last year.

The US Cutting Tool Market Report (CTMR) tracks sales of cutting tools in the US market and, like the USMTO programme, reports on the basis of the returns that are received.  Although the data for April was weak (-16% down on March), this was mainly due to the holidays reducing the number of working days and for the first 4 months of the year, the market for cutting tools is +3.5% higher than in the same period of 2016.  There is no regional breakdown for cutting tools.

You can download the USMTO News Release from the AMT web-site at and the Cutting Tool News Release from, or you can request both from MTA.