Evidence that Britain's economy is defying the Brexit doom-mongers was revealed yesterday
Data from the Office for National Statistics showed that both key economic sectors grew in at a faster rate in the final month of last year than forecast by experts.
Construction expanded by a healthy 1.8 per cent in December, up from 0.4 per cent during the previous month.
Manufacturing output also grew more quickly than economists had predicted, with an even better 2.1 per cent increase.
Official data revealed Britain's trade gap – between exports and imports – narrowed in the final month of last year.
The goods and services deficit shrank by £300 million to £3.3 billion in December after the export of goods to non-EU countries rose by £1.1 billion.
Kate Davies, ONS senior statistician, said a surge in the exports of oil and aircraft had helped the trade gap decrease by £5.6 billion to £8.6 billion between the third and fourth quarter of 2016.
Figures have shown a surge in construction
She said: "Industrial output and the construction sector both remained broadly flat over the final quarter of 2016 but grew in December, with manufacturing growth driven by a strong month for often volatile pharmaceuticals and the expansion in construction led by house and commercial building."
Britain's manufacturing boom is now underway
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The manufacturing industry's strong performance drove a rise in industrial production output, which grew by 1.1 per cent in December despite economists' pencilling in a more modest 0.1 per cent expansion.
It meant total production output rose by 1.2 per cent in 2016 compared with the year before, with manufacturing growing by 0.7 per cent over the period.
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Construction expanded by 1.8 per cent in December, up from 0.4 per cent during the previous month
Sterling's growth slipped back in response to the slew of economic data to trade marginally up against the US dollar at 1.249 and climb 0.1 per cent versus the euro at 1.174.
Alan Clarke, head of European fixed income strategy at Scotiabank, said the bright performance from key areas of the economy could see gross domestic product (GDP) revised up for the fourth quarter of 2016.
He said: "December's industrial and construction output data were much stronger than expected."
Previous forecasts were "far too pessimistic", he added.
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"The punchline is that other things equal, this points to fourth quarter GDP being revised up to 0.7 per cent quarter-on-quarter.
"It's not a done deal yet, services have the biggest weight in overall GDP and that sector has to play ball too."
Official data released last month showed the UK economy was the strongest out of the G7 nations in 2016, confounding economists' predictions Brexit uncertainty would slam the brakes on growth.
Strong consumer spending helped power growth in the final months of last year, with GDP expanding by 0.6 per cent in the fourth quarter, in line with the second and third quarters.
Manufacturing output also grew, with an even better with an even better 2.1 per cent
Despite the resilience, economists are forecasting GDP to shrink in 2017, as soaring inflation driven by the Brexit-hit pound pushes up consumer prices and squeezes household spending power.
But Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Global Insight, said Friday's "hat-trick" of good news showed the UK economy was "firing on several cylinders" and not just reliant on consumer spending.
The figures contrast with predictions by the Treasury, the Bank of England and others that a Brexit vote in last June's EU referendum threatened to plunge the British economy into recession.
Anti-Brussels campaign group Leave Means Leave said: "Britain's manufacturing boom is now underway."
David Cheetham, market analyst at online share trading firm XTB, said: "Overall these data points indicate healthy levels of performance in their respective sectors."