Forties pipeline shutdown and jump in oil prices hit UK trade 

Forties pipeline shutdown and jump in oil prices hit UK trade 

“Excluding oil and erratic items, growth in export volumes exceeded growth in imports in the fourth quarter, suggesting that the underlying picture for net trade is much better than these figures suggest,” said Paul Hollingsworth at Capital Economics.

“As a result, December’s figures don’t suggest the boost to manufacturing and net trade has now run its course.”

The oil sector in particular should receive a lift in the opening months of this year.

“With the Forties pipeline back in operation, industrial production should benefit in January from a marked rebound in oil and gas extraction,” said Mr Archer.

The National Institute for Economic and Social Affairs estimates that UK GDP grew by 0.5pc in the three months to January, with both the manufacturing and services sectors contributing to the expansion.

“We are forecasting GDP growth of close to 2pc this year assuming a soft Brexit scenario,” said Niesr’s Amit Kara.

“At this speed the economy could start to overheat unless the Bank of England withdraws some of the stimulus that it has injected by raising the policy rate.”

Mr Kara anticipates an interest rate rise in May, and another hike every six months until the base rate reaches 2pc.