RTTNews - British manufacturing output recorded growth for the second straight month in April signaling that the economy is on the road to a gradual recovery.

In a report released on Wednesday, the Office for National Statistics said manufacturing output rose 0.2% in April from the previous month, slightly more than the expected 0.1% increase. The statistical office revised the initial decline estimated for March to a 0.2% increase, which turned out to be the first growth in manufacturing output since February 2008.

Output decreased in seven of the 13 sub sectors and increased in six in April. The transport equipment industries reported a significant increase of 3.2%, while production of chemical and man-made fibres grew 2.3%. Downward effect came from basic metals and metal products and other manufacturing industries.

Production decreased 12.7% annually versus a revised 13.1% fall in March. April's annual fall was slightly smaller than the 12.6% decrease expected by economists.

The ONS data showed that industrial production recorded an unexpected 0.3% rise in April, while economists were looking for a monthly fall of 0.1%. On a yearly basis, production was down 12.3% in April compared to a revised 12.7% decline witnessed in March. Consensus forecast was for a 12.4% decrease.

With decreases in the electricity and gas supply output, energy supply output dropped 1.3%, while mining and quarrying output rose 2.4%.

Commenting on the data, the British Chambers of Commerce's Chief Economist David Kern said any talk of recovery at this stage is premature and potentially misleading. He added that threats to the manufacturing sector's skills base remain serious, and it is important for the government to take steps that enable viable firms to retain their precious skilled workforce.

Another report released by the ONS said the visible trade deficit widened to GBP 7 billion in April from GBP 6.5 billion in March as growth in imports outpaced exports. Total trade deficit that includes both trade in goods and services was GBP 3 billion, up from a revised deficit of GBP 2.7 billion in March.

Commerzbank analyst Peter Dixon said economic indicators are showing signs of a close to flat GDP growth in the second quarter rather than a large negative variation. He noted that the first quarter growth would be revised down in the wake of weaker-than-expected construction output, while suggesting that it is not the time to make big revisions to 2009 GDP projection.

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