Sparking concern over the strength of the nation's economic recovery, Britain's industrial output tumbled by 1.7% in September from the August level, official data showed on Tuesday.
Industrial production also sank by 2.6% in September on a 12-month comparison, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
The data was much weaker than market expectations, which had been for a smaller monthly drop of 0.4% and for an annual decline of 1.3%, according to analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires.
The main cause was the oil and gas sector, where extraction tumbled by 20.9% -- the biggest drop since records began in 1997. The ONS said maintenance on a number of sites caused the output drop.
Capital Economics analyst Samuel Tombs said that the industrial production data suggested that "the economic recovery is quickly losing momentum again".
The ONS added that manufacturing output, which excludes mining and quarrying, as well as the electricity, gas and water supply sectors, rose 0.1% in September from August, but fell by 1% on an annual basis.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012