• Manufacturing output in March 2012: up 0.9% on the month, -0.9% on the year

Commenting on the manufacturing output figures for March 2012, David Kern, Chief Economist at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:“The increase in manufacturing output in March was slightly stronger than expected, but this was no surprise following the decline in February. However, with output flat over the quarter, and year-on-year falls across the wider production index, there are still challenges ahead.

“The new data highlights the difficult circumstances still facing the UK economy. Tough austerity measures are squeezing domestic demand, and renewed uncertainties in the eurozone continue to pose new challenges for UK exporters. While the economy remains fragile, businesses should be given the support they need to drive recovery. The flow of lending to firms must be increased, the regulatory burden eased and Britain’s exporters must be able to compete when trading overseas.”