The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) 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 months fall of 1.9%.
This has led several economists to state their belief that the news eases fears of a triple-dip recession -- feasibly a third in five years -- with BNP Paribas's 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," and Royal Bank of Scotland's Ross Walker stating: "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 UK 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 (LSE: CNA), which reached an annual high last week and put on an extra 0.6% in early trade to reach 371.87p at the time of writing. Increased gas usage amid the colder weather and higher prices, as well as 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: BRGGY.US), with the latter also profiting from today's news, up 0.4% to 1,132p.
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 retains a significant holding in Centrica...
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