Commenting on the manufacturing output figures for April published today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), David Kern, Chief Economist at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:          

“Manufacturing output fell by 1.5 percent in April, more than most analysts expected. However, these expectations underestimated special factors, such as the impact of fewer working days as a result of the Royal Wedding, and the effect of the Japanese tsunami on global supply chains. Taking these into account, this figure supports our view that the manufacturing recovery, though modest, is still on course, and remains a crucial element of any sustained UK upturn. Nevertheless, the April figures point to relatively weak GDP in the second quarter, and we expect that the UK economy will expand by only 1.3 percent in 2011 as a whole.

“This relatively subdued performance does not justify calls to abandon the government’s fiscal austerity plan. The fragility of the recovery must be acknowledged, and everything must be done to ensure that there is no major setback in the months ahead. Reinforcing growth enhancing policies, and postponing any increases to interest rates until later this year will be important to ensure the economy continues to recover.”