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ONS Figures Calm Fears of Triple-Dip Recession

By Sam Robson - Apr 9, 2013 at 12:16PM

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The Office for National Statistics reports higher-than-expected increase in industrial production.

LONDON -- The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics have revealed that February saw industrial production rise 1% against January 2013, while manufacturing output -- one of the components of the index of production -- almost doubled its February forecast, up 0.8% compared to the previous month's fall of 1.9%.

This has led several economists to say the news eases fears of a triple-dip recession -- feasibly a third in five years -- with BNP Paribas' David Tinsley commenting: "These apocalyptic stories of a Q1 negative (GDP) print and a triple dip are still certainly not guaranteed. If we get some growth in the service sector, we will be OK." Further, Royal Bank of Scotland's Ross Walker said, "It's hardly a dramatic recovery but it does look to be avoiding a symbolic triple dip recession."

Energy production also comprises part of the industrial-production figure, and the colder-than-average weather that the U.K. has been seeing -- including snowfall in spring -- has significantly contributed to the upturn, which had previously been estimated at a 0.3% increase.

Companies that have benefited include British Gas owner Centrica (CNA -7.14%), which reached an annual high last week and gained 1% in today's trading to reach 374 pence. Increased gas usage, higher prices, and more investment in the sector have led to a strong start to the year for the likes of Centrica and BG Group (LSE: BG) (NASDAQOTH: BRGYY). The latter also profited from today's news, gaining a more modest 0.3%.

Indeed, with the government's proposed "Gas Generation Strategy," the energy sector looks to have a healthy outlook. Interestingly, though, City super investor Neil Woodford recently sold all of Invesco Perpetual High Income fund's holding in BG Group, yet he retains a significant holding in Centrica...

If you had invested 10,000 pounds in Woodford's High Income fund 10 years ago with payments reinvested, you'd have 30,000 pounds today to show for it. To help you learn from this top stock-picker, The Motley Fool has prepared a newly updated report on some of Woodford's biggest investments. "8 Shares Held By Britain's Super Investor" is totally free -- to get your copy today, click here.

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