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Mixed results for UK manufacturing and exports

The UK's hopes of avoiding a return to recession remain in the balance after the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released mixed figures on manufacturing and exports.

A general view of Southampton Docks as the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released mixed figures on manufacturing and exports. Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA

Economists were cheered by a month-on-month improvement of 0.8% in factory output for February, reversing some of the 1.9% slide in January.

But separate figures from the ONS also showed a widening in the UK's trade deficit, largely due to a 1.1% fall in exports amid weaker demand from the beleaguered eurozone.

The UK will duck its third recession since the start of the financial crisis if GDP figures on 25th April avoid a second quarter in a row of contraction.

Hope 'positive bounce can continue across the country'

Easter distortions aside, the three-month average figures paint a positive picture and show the highest like-for-like sales increases since December 2009.

On the back of strong January and February results, this may be the beginning of a positive trend and will be welcomed by many retailers.

With Easter falling early this year, the April sales comparatives will be negatively affected but it is hoped that the positive bounce of the first quarter of 2013 can continue to be felt across the country, buoyed by the opening of new shopping centres in cities such as Leeds.

– David McCorquodale, Head of Retail, KPMG
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