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UK manufacturing output hits 4-year high

Manufacturing output grew at its fastest rate for almost four years in April, according to official figures.

Total UK production increased by two per cent compared with March and 1.6 per cent year-on-year, the Office for National Statistics said.

Manufacturing made the biggest contribution to the rise, with output increasing by 2.3 per cent, the largest increase since July 2012.

The largest contribution to the increase in manufacturing came from basic pharmaceutical products and pharmaceutical preparations, which increased by 12.5 per cent, the largest rise since April 2009.

"Anecdotal evidence suggested increased exports were the main contributing factor to the rise" in the pharmaceutical sector, the ONS said.

In the three months to April, production and manufacturing were 9.4 per cent and 6.4 per cent respectively below their pre-downturn GDP peaks of Q1 2008.

Zack Witton, deputy chief economist at manufacturers' organisation the EEF, said the size of the jump in output for the sector is a surprise and "should be treated with caution" because month-on-month data can be volatile.

"While this data might not be enough to push manufacturing back into growth in Q2 2016, it is generally in line with our survey suggesting that manufacturing seems to be turning a corner," he added.

"The drag from the challenges facing manufacturing over the last year or so - weak global growth, the low oil price and the global oversupply of steel - appear to be easing and the sector looks set to return to growth in the second half of this year."

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