Manufacturing (3)

Economic experts are concerned that the UK's growth with slow down this quarter after new figures showed that industrial output fell at its fastest rate since 2013 in February.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) said output dropped 0.5% compared with February last year, with manufacturing output falling 1.1% from January and 1.8% a year earlier.

Howard Archer, chief UK economist at IHS Global Insight, said: "The February trade and industrial production data provide a double whammy of very disappointing news for the UK economy that bodes ill for first-quarter growth prospects.

"It reinforces our belief that GDP growth will have been no better than 0.4% quarter-on-quarter in the first quarter, down from 0.6% quarter-on-quarter in the fourth quarter of 2015."

The biggest fall came in manufacturing of transport equipment, which declined 2.9%

Lee Hopley, economist at the manufacturers' organisation EEF, said: "Today's data confirms the ongoing weakness across manufacturing with broad-based falls across more or less all the sub-sectors leading to a hefty month-on-month decline.

"This points to a fairly dismal first quarter for industry that will again pose a drag on GDP growth."

Separate figures from the ONS revealed that the UK's trade deficit was worse than expected in February, despite narrow falls.