Manufacturing decline slows

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The downturn in UK manufacturing slowed in April, according to the CIPS/Markit Purchasing Managers’ Index.

The survey found that while companies faced declining new order volumes the rates of contraction for both output and new work eased noticeably over the month. As a result the seasonally adjusted PMI rose to 42.9 in April. Although the index remained below the neutral 50.0 mark it continued to move up from the low point in February.

April data pointed to a stabilisation of foreign demand for UK manufactured goods. New export orders were broadly unchanged from one month earlier.

Roy Ayliffe, director at the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply, said: “A noticeable easing in the rate of contraction for output and new orders was welcomed. But, purchasing managers noted depleted stocks as increasing the risk to supply chains, and tough trading conditions with ongoing cuts continue to bleed UK firms dry.”

And Rob Dobson, senior economist at Markit Economics said: “That the latest readings will be met with more hope than despair shows just how bad conditions had become for UK manufacturing. Although still historically low, the PMI came in above expectations.

“The output and new orders indexes may still be a long way off recovery levels, but have posted substantial gains in each of the past two months. Further signs export demand is stabilising on the back of the weak pound will also be welcomed by manufacturers.”

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