By Daniel Hunter

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics have revealed a gloomy picture for the manufacturing sector.

The official data shows that output slid by 1.5%during a snow-hit January deepened the UK's triple-dip recession fears.

This data has had a knock on effect, putting further pressure on the pound, which dropped to a new two-and-a-half-year low of 1.48 against the US dollar.

The UK economy contracted by a worse-than-expected 0.3 per cent at the end of 2012 and will return to recession with another decline in the current quarter.

The manufacturing decline, which followed signs of improvement in December, meant overall industrial output dropped by 1.2 per cent in January, dashing City hopes for a better performance over the month.

“The first official statistics don’t bring any sign of improvement in the UK’s growth performance at the start of the year," Ms Lee Hopley, Chief Economist at EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, said.

"Both manufacturing output and goods exports were down more than expected with production across most sectors struggling and, export sales weak in both European and non-EU markets. While there is a fair bit of volatility in both the production and the trade numbers, the main takeaway from the data so far this year is that much of manufacturing is facing an uphill challenge to grow in a difficult global demand environment.”

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