UK manufacturing performance took an unexpected knock in April according to official data, adding to fears Britain's economic recovery is much weaker than previously thought.
Britain's factories had been one of the main drivers of growth in Q1 but the Office for National Statistics (ONS) data suggested Q2 started weakly with output in April down 0.4% month-on-month.
Analysts had forecasts a 0.5% rise and a jump of 2.2% in March.
Transport, food, drink, tobacco and electrical sub-sectors were the biggest drags on performance, according to the ONS.
Today's disappointing figures echo poor import and export data also released this week by the ONS.
It showed Britain's trade in goods stood at £7.3bn in April, slightly worse than the market expectation of a £7bn deficit, as the fall in sterling failed again to deliver an expected boost to exports.
Import and export volumes were both down, by 0.7% and 0.5% respectively, though the volcanic ash cloud which grounded flights for a week during the month will have impacted the data.
The fear among some groups is short-term boosts in this early part of the upturn are fading, as the boost to production from companies rebuilding their inventories wears off along with stimuli from the Government and the Bank of England.
However in year-on-year, manufacturing output rose 3.4%, a slight slowdown from growth of 3.7% in March, but still chiming with industry surveys suggesting orders and output remain strong.
The ONS wider measure of industrial output, which includes energy production, also declined 0.4% on the month, compared with a 0.4% rise forecast in a Reuters poll of economists.
The disappointing figures are likely to been as a warning sign for a period of even greater austerity ahead of Chancellor George Osborne's emergency budget on 22 June.
As head of distribution
‘Misconduct is misconduct’
Ramifications for advice firms
Calling for new advisers to join
Falls to 2.4%