Britain’s car factories are helping drive the country’s manufacturing production to its longest period of growth in more than 20 years, according to government figures.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said cars made for export and a bumper month for pharmaceutical firms helped output grow for the sixth month in a row in October – the longest unbroken period of manufacturing growth since 1994.
A growth rate of 0.1% in manufacturing production in October pushed the annual rate of expansion to 3.9% and confirmed the manufacturing sector’s status as one of the brightest areas in the UK economy this year.
The last time manufacturers stitched together an unbroken run of five months was from December 2013 to May in the following year, the ONS said.
However, some economists warned that October’s growth rate fell short of the expansion seen during the summer, fuelling fears the UK economy is on course to grow at the slowest pace in the G7 next year.
Uncertainty about the outcome of talks with Brussels over the country’s future trading relationship with the EU is also expected to dampen investment and consumer confidence, despite a deal to discuss trade as part of a move to a second phase of Brexit talks.
Growth in overall industrial production, which includes output from mines, quarries, the oil and gas industry and energy plants, ground to a halt after warmer weather allowed power companies to cut production.
Data from the construction industry showed a dramatic drop in activity while official figures covering Britain’s trade with the rest of the world revealed a longstanding deficit widened in October.