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Is Queen to blame for manufacturing slump?

01 August, 2002

Is Queen to blame for manufacturing slump?

Output from the UK`s manufacturing sector plummeted by 5.3% in June - the biggest monthly drop since a 9.6% slump in January 1979. Sectors which experienced a particularly severe downturn included metals and metal products (where output fell 7.6% from May) and engineering and allied industries (where output dropped by 7.9%). Within the metals sector, "general mechanical engineering" suffered a 12.68% collapse, compared to the May figure.

But the National Statistics Office, which issued the figures, cautions that the changes in work patterns caused by the extended Queen`s Jubilee holiday may have boosted production in May, and reduced it in June. It says that "there is strong evidence that this effect was greater than had been anticipated," with some factories closing for the whole of the Jubilee week.

The UK`s manufacturing output for the second quarter of the year was 5.3% lower than for the same period last year, and 0.7% down on the first quarter of 2002. Sectors which have borne the brunt of the falls this year include textiles, leather and clothing (where output fell by 3% from one quarter to the next) paper, printing and publishing (which fell by 1.5%) and machinery and equipment (which also suffered a 1.5% downturn).

But the food, drink and tobacco sector managed to post a slight (0.6%) rise between the first and second quarters, while the wood and wood products sector surged ahead by 2.6%.

The National Statistics Office says that the downturn in industrial production will probably lead to a downward revision in the 0.3% growth rate previously forecast for the UK`s GDP (Gross Domestic Product).The next estimate for GDP is due to be published on 23 August.

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