UK Manufacturing Output , April 2023:  The manufacturing output data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) this week showed a month-on-month fall of -0.3% but thanks to a significant rise in March, output in the latest 3 months (February, March and April 2023) is +0.7% higher than in the previous 3-month period (November and December 2022 and January 2023) but still -1.3% lower than a year earlier (February. March and April 2022).

For the monthly series, the pre-pandemic comparison month is February 2020 and manufacturing output in April 2023 was at 100.8% of its base level.

The capital goods industries led the way this month with growth of +0.8% to follow on from the rise of +1.2% in March;  the 3-month rolling total for this group is an increase of +1.6% compared to the previous period and +1.5% over a year earlier.  It is also worth noting that this growth has tipped output to 100.3% of its pre-pandemic level, leaving only intermediate goods still below the February 2020 position.

Of the 4 key industries that we track, three of them (and two significantly so) have seen output increase in the latest 3-month period – the exception is the machinery industry where output is -0.6% lower than in the previous period and down by -3.6% compared to a year earlier.  However, thanks to strong growth in the immediate recovery period, output in this industry in April 2023 was 108.0% of its pre-pandemic level.

The aerospace industry had a good month in April but the 3-month rolling trend for output is only +0.4% higher than in the previous period and +1.1% up on a year earlier.  It is also just above the February 2020 level at 101.0%.

This is not true of the other industries that we cover with metal products at 89.7% of its pre-pandemic level and automotive, which is still recovering from the global supply chain issues that had a significant impact on output, at only 77.8% of its February 2020 level.  Although both industries saw output increase in the latest 3-month period compared to the previous block – +4.0% for automotive and +5.5% for metal products – there is a more mixed trend if you look back to a year ago with changes of +0.3% and -2.2% respectively.

You can download the ONS Statistical Bulletin from their web-site at (14 June) or request it from MTA;  we also have an analysis of the key industries which is available to members – please contact Geoff Noon ([email protected]) if you would like these charts.


UK GDP, April 2023:  The ONS estimates a modest increase in GDP in April with growth of +0.2% following the fall of -0.3% registered in March.  Therefore, despite the weak month in March, UK GDP in the latest 3 months is +0.1% higher than in the previous 3-month period (up to January 2023).

We have already noted the negative trend for manufacturing, a trend which was shared with construction where activity fell month-on-month by -0.6% following growth of +0.2% in March, with the service sector growing by +0.3% which was not quite enough to reverse the decline of -0.5% seen in the previous month.

The service sector is by far the largest in the economy, so it is worth looking at the main elements of this.  Output of the consumer-facing services grew by +1.0% in April which outweighed the fall of -0.8% in March and, as a result, is up by +0.1% in the latest 3-month period.  Despite this, the output level for consumer-facing services is still -8.7% below their pre-pandemic level (February 2020), while other services are +2.0% higher.

The largest contributor to the growth in the service sector in April came from the motor vehicle trade (sales, repairs, etc. but not manufacturing) which was up by +3.9% in April.  There was also significant growth in information & communication (led by film & TV production and music publication) and computer programming & related activities.  The largest negative contribution to the output trend in April came from human health activities, thanks mainly to 4 days of strikes by junior doctors (compared to only 3 in March).

With the construction sector having set a record monthly value of output in level terms in March, the fall in April was perhaps inevitable.  It came from a fall in new work that was only marginally off-set by an edging up of activity on repair & maintenance.  Five of the nine sub-groups in this sector saw a decrease in output this month.  By type of activity, private housing was the weakest group with falls in output for both new work and repair & maintenance.

There are more details in the range of ONS Statistical Bulletins which can be downloaded from their website at (14 June) or on request from MTA.


European Industrial Production, April 2023:  The latest European data shows that Industrial Production (IP*) increased by +0.7% for the EU compared to the March figure, with a rise of +1.0% for the Euro-zone.  However, this positive trend hides the fact that there was a very large fall in March and while that decline was partly a correction of the strong February figure, the recovery in April still leaves the overall IP index below its starting point in 2023.

The way in which Eurostat publishes the data makes rolling 3-month trends hard to identify so we have to use the month-on-month trends instead.  The breakdown of this by sub-sector shows that it was the capital goods group of industries that led the way with increases of +12.1% for the EU and +14.7% for the Euro-zone.  In this case, these are largely reversals of the declines that were recorded in March.

Looking back over 12 months to the comparison with April 2022, capital goods again lead the way an increase of +8.8% in the EU and +8.3% for the Euro-zone.  We are seeing a recovery in this sub-sector in Germany led by their automotive industry which is benefitting from increased supply of electronic components which is enabling an increase in production to deal with extensive order backlogs.  [Note:  There is a similar trend in the US where a marginal increase in manufacturing output in May was entirely due to growth in the automotive industry – excluding that, the total ticked down slightly.]

Continuing with this comparison, of the 26 Member States who have published the data (Cyprus is missing), output increased in 9 (8 in March) and fell in 17 (18 the previous month).  There was strong growth in Ireland (+22.5%), Malta (+14.3%) and Denmark (+12.2%) while the largest falls were in Estonia (-15.1%), the Netherlands (-12.8%) and Bulgaria (-12.5%).  Among the largest EU economies, France (+1.4%) and Germany (+1.3%) had higher output than a year earlier, while Italy (-7.2%) and Spain (-2.1%) recorded a fall.

* Eurostat publishes the aggregate for Industrial Production (IP) and while this is dominated by manufacturing, it also includes energy and utilities (but not construction);  the breakdown of the total by sector misses out having a figure for manufacturing.

You can get the full details from the Eurostat News Release which can be downloaded from their website at (14 June) or requested from MTA.

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