Manufacturing production fell for the second successive quarter at the end of 1998, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) Index of Production.
Monthly output figures showed their fifth consecutive fall, the longest continuous drop since the early 1980s.
Output was 1.3% lower in the fourth quarter than it had been a year before. Most sectors were down, notably metals and metal products by 4.9%, but engineering production rose 3.1%. The basis for these figures has been changed in some cases.
December’s output prices were revised downwards to show the first ever annual fall, down 0.1%. Prices in January fell 0.1% compared with December 1998, equal with the previous year.
The cost of materials and fuel (input prices) rose by 0.5% between December 1998 and January, largely because of a rise in crude oil prices. However, since January 1998, input prices have fallen 7%.
The OECD’s report on iron and steel in 1997 shows total production has gone up from 747.9m tonnes to 794.1m tonnes. China remains the largest producer of steel in the world, making 13.5% of the total. Germany and Italy were Europe’s largest producers, while the UK fell from third to fourth behind France.