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British manufacturing output flattens

LONDON, Dec 8 – British manufacturing output steadied in October from the previous month, but fell sharply on an annual basis, official data showed on Tuesday.

Output was unchanged in October from September, but fell by 7.8 percent compared with October 2008, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said in a statement. Manufacturing has dropped on an annual basis for 18 months in a row.

That was the longest period of 12-month falls since between April 2001 and May 2003. Market expectations had been for a 0.4-percent monthly gain and an annual drop of 7.2 percent.

The ONS added that September output was revised to show a 1.5-percent monthly gain and a 9.8-percent slump over the year.

That compared with the original estimate of a 1.7-percent monthly rise and a 9.3-percent year-on-year drop.

The ONS also revealed on Tuesday that a wider measure of industrial production, which includes mining, quarrying and energy, was flat in October from September, but was down 8.4 percent year-on-year.

"October\’s UK industrial production figures provide further evidence that the manufacturing recovery is struggling to maintain momentum," said economist Vicky Redwood at the Capital Economics consultancy.

"Both manufacturing output and total industrial production were unchanged in October, versus consensus forecasts for a modest rise, while output in September now shows a smaller bounce-back from August\’s sharp drop."

She added that the British economy should pull out of recession by the end of 2009 — but warned about the "fragile" outlook.

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"Industry should still help the overall economy to pull out of recession before the end of the year. But the recovery clearly looks fragile."

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