Friday, March 09, 2012
A bad day's data from the ONS
Posted by David Smith at 11:00 AM
Category: Thoughts and responses

The surveys may be strong but the official data is not, not yet at least. This morning's releases from the Office for National Statistics have put the possibility of a drop in gross domestic product in the first quarter back on the agenda, even though there's a long way to go.

Manufacturing output edged up by 0.1% in January. That was a little less than expected but puts manufacturing on course for a decent Q1 bounce - January was comfortably above the Q4 average. However, industrial production fell by 0.4% and in January was 0.3% below the Q4 average. Energy production was the culprit again. It remains to be seen whether February and March will be strong enough to lift production into positive territory. More details here.

More concerning was the official data from the construction sector. The numbers remain somewhat experimental and are not seasonally-adjusted but show a drop of more than 12% in construction output in January, after a fall of over 10% in December. The assumption has to be that most of this is seasonal, and the ONS, in its release here, does not flag up any particular alarm bells. But this is another drag of Q1 GDP, possibly a large one. Nobody said it would be easy.