United Kingdom industrial output drops at start of year

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British factories enjoyed their strongest growth in almost seven years in late 2016 and early 2017 and exports rose quickly, data showed on Friday, suggesting a boost for manufacturers from sterling's fall after the Brexit vote.

The U.K.'s total production shrank by 0.4% on the month in January, the Office for National Statistics said, as manufacturing output declined by 0.9% on a steep decline in production of pharmaceuticals, which statisticians warn can be erratic.

The jump in exports took the deficit gap between what the country imports and exports down to £6.4bn in the quarter to January, a fall of £4.7bn from the previous three months prior.

Export volumes rose by 8.7 per cent over the three months to January, the strongest increase in more than a decade.

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Experts said the weakness of sterling could help the economy become less reliant on household spending for growth.

The ONS said exports increased to £400million over the period, slightly more than imports at £300m.

Manufacturing output, which excludes mining and quarrying, electricity, gas and water supply, slid 0.9 percent in January from December.

Kate Davies, ONS senior statistician, said: "Taking the last three months together, construction and manufacturing both grew strongly, with considerable narrowing in Britain's trade deficit".

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This was the first decrease since October 2016 and was less than expected fall of 0.5 percent.

Britain's industrial output recoiled in January as the nation prepared to exit the European Union, official data showed Friday.

"However, both manufacturing and construction were broadly flat on the month with the trade balance little changed".

'While the consumer slowdown will weigh on services output, the renaissance in the production and construction sectors could limit the extent of the overall slowdown'.

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