Doubts over the strength of the UK economic recovery in the second quarter were underlined on Friday by weaker than expected output data from Britain's factories and other production sectors.
Manufacturing and production output both fell month on month in May, leaving annual rates looking weak. Construction output fell for the second month in row, reflecting slowing growth in British house prices.
After a disappointing gross domestic product growth rate of 0.2% in the first three months, most economists were predicting a strong bounce in the second quarter – as indicated by forward-looking survey data during March and April.
Purchasing manager surveys (PMI) since then, however, have indicated some areas where optimism is fading and growth expectations slowing.
Friday's production data tallied with this picture of slowing growth.
Industrial production fell 0.1% month on month in May, after rising 0.2% in April, leaving analysts' forecasts of a 0.4% rise looking way off the mark.
Annualised industrial production fell 0.2%, an improvement on April's decline of 0.8%, but still short of a forecast 0.2% rise.
Manufacturing output fell 0.2% month on month in May, after a 0.2% rise in April, and falling well shy of the predicted 0.5% rise, with motor manufacturing among the weakest business segments, falling 4.4%.
The annual rate of manufacturing output, however, climbed 0.4%, up from April's flat reading, but not up to par on the 1% growth expected.
Friday's data, along with recent manufacturing PMI softness left investors with further concerns over on the strength of the recovery in the second quarter.
"Today’s flurry of UK activity data casts some doubt on the likely strength of the bounce-back in overall activity in the second quarter," said Ruth Gregory, UK economist at Capital Economics.
Manufacturing and construction represents little more than 20% of the UK economy, so service sector performance remains crucial for growth.
"The hard data for the services sector suggests growth has rebounded strongly and we still think that GDP growth should be able to pick-up from 0.2% in Q1 to about 0.4% in Q2," added Gregory.
Falling construction rates mirrored slowing activity in house sales which, in turn, is having a negative impact on house prices according to the latest Halifax survey.
A 1% month on month fall in June left the annualised three-month rolling average rate at 2.6%, down from 3.3% in May. Analysts had expected a dip to 3.1%.
Trade balance and markets
Completing Friday's data flurry were figures on Britain's balance of trade with its overseas partners.
The total trade deficit widened in May to £3.07bn from £2.12bn in April as weaker sterling led to costlier imports.
Given the weak nature of Friday's data it was no surprise to see sterling weaken further.
The pound lost 0.4% to $1.2916 against the dollar and was down 0.4% to €1.1310 against the euro.