By Marcus Leach

Despite manufacturing output in April being down 1.5% on the month the British Chambers of Commerce believe the sector's recovery is still on course, albeit modestly at present.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics showed that UK manufacturing experienced its biggest monthly drop for almost two and a half years in April.

“Manufacturing output fell by 1.5 percent in April, more than most analysts expected," David Kern, Chief Economist at the British Chambers of Commerce, said.

"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.”