Britain’s manufacturing sector staged a surprise recovery in May, thanks to a surge in car production, official figures showed on Thursday.

The Office for National Statistics said manufacturing output rose by 0.4 percent in May, to stand 1.8 percent higher than a year ago.
Analysts had expected output to remain unchanged on the month and rise just 1.4 percent on the year.

The ONS said overall production, which includes the volatile energy sector, rose 0.1 percent month-on-month, to rise 2.3 percent on the year. The expected figures were for a 0.2 percent fall on the month, and 1.7 percent rise on the year.

The data are unlikely to sway the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, which is expected to leave interest rates on hold at 6.0 percent later in the day.
Analysts said the figures would provide some relief to hard-pressed manufacturers but said it was too early to call an end to the sector’s troubles.

“The rebound in car production has given some relief to manufacturing output,” said Phil Shaw, economist at Investec.
“Nevertheless, despite this number and the subsequent fall in sterling from May’s levels, manufacturing continues to face a tough set of external trade conditions and the sector faces an uphill grind during the second half of this year.”

The ONS said a sharp rebound in car production from a very weak April helped boost the manufacturing sector in May.

The annual trend rate of growth for industrial output was revised up to 1.0 percent from 0.5 percent in April, while the trend rate for manufacturing remained unchanged at 0.5 percent