U.K. Industrial Output Has Biggest Monthly Gain Since 2012

  • Manufacturing output jumps 2.3% on pharmaceuticals, vehicles
  • Surprise increase will boost hopes for second-quarter growth

U.K. industrial production posted its biggest monthly gain in almost four years in April as manufacturing surged.

Output climbed 2 percent following a 0.3 percent rise in March, figures from the Office for National Statistics published Wednesday show. Economists in a Bloomberg survey had predicted no change. Factories increased production by 2.3 percent in April, which was also the biggest gain since July 2012.

The figures will boost hopes for the second quarter after two consecutive quarters of falling industrial output. The data contrast with surveys showing lackluster activity as the referendum on European Union membership and ailing global growth take their toll.

“If this marks the beginning of stabilization or modest growth in the U.K. industrial sector, that would suggest some potential upside risk to gross domestic product growth in the second half of the year if the U.K. remains in the EU,” Kallum Pickering, an economist at Berenberg Bank in London, wrote in an e-mailed note.

The main driver behind manufacturing in April was the pharmaceuticals sector, where output rose 8.6 percent -- the largest increase since February 2014 -- mainly on exports. Domestic sales boosted car production, lifting output of transport equipment by 4.7 percent. Overall, 10 out of 13 manufacturing sectors increased production in April.

Energy Demand

There was also a 3.9 percent jump in gas and electricity production as colder-than-normal temperatures increased demand for energy. Oil and gas extraction fell 1.3 percent.

The pound was little changed at $1.4550 as of 11:21 a.m. London time.

Industrial production rose 1.6 percent from a year earlier, while manufacturing increased 0.8 percent. In the latest three months, output climbed 0.7 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively.

Data Tuesday showed German industrial production rebounded in April, while in Spain, it was unchanged from the previous month.

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