• British Feb industrial output shrinks 0.7%

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    LONDON: Britain’s industrial output fell by more than anticipated in February in a sign that the economic resilience seen after the Brexit referendum could be starting to crumble, official data showed Friday.

    Industrial output contracted by 0.7 percent in February, after already shrinking by 0.3 percent the previous month, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) calculated.

    Analysts had been pencilling in a more modest decline of 0.2 percent for February.

    The statisticians said that output in the energy sector contracted the most, as relatively warm temperatures in February led to “to a decrease in domestic energy demand and, subsequently, gas and electricity production.”

    But declines were seen across all sectors, with the manufacturing output dipping by 0.1 percent month-on-month.
    Analysts described the data as disappointing.

    The numbers “fuel suspicion that GDP (gross domestic product) growth (has) slowed markedly, largely due to consumers becoming more cautious,” said IHS Markit economist, Howard Archer.

    “There is also evidence that some clients are reluctant to commit to major projects in an uncertain environment” he added, as Britain begins a two-year process of leaving the European Union.

    Looking ahead, economists expect Brexit-fuelled uncertainties and rising inflation caused by a weak pound and rising oil prices to crimp growth, which was 1.8 percent in 2016.

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