British industrial output suffered a shock fall in January, raising doubts about whether the economy will rebound after contracting at the end of 2011.
The Office for National Statistics said that industrial output fell 0.4 percent in January after a 0.4 percent rise in December, confounding economists' forecasts for a 0.3 percent rise.
The figures contrast with a recent strengthening in business surveys and may revive fears that Britain is heading for a double-dip recession, placing extra pressure on the Bank of England and the government to provide stimulus to boost demand.
The fall was driven by a sharp drop in oil and gas extraction and by a smaller-than-expected rise in factory output.
Factory output rose by just 0.1 percent, well below forecasts a 0.3 percent rise.
A survey overnight from Britain's main manufacturers' association, EEF, showed that factory output rebounded at the start of 2012 and firms expect output and orders to grow at their fastest pace in a year over the coming 3 months.
Separate data showed factory gate inflation picked up in February after a sharp rise on the month for input costs for crude oil and home-produced food.
Producer output prices rose by an annual 4.1 percent, above forecasts for a reading of 3.9 percent.
The figures may worry those on the Bank's nine-member Monetary Policy Committee who are concerned that consumer price inflation will not fall as quickly as the central bank predicts.
In its latest projections, the Bank forecast CPI would fall to below its 2 percent target by the end of this year and stay there until 2014.
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