01 March 2004 | Gareth Mytton
The UK manufacturing sector enjoyed another month of rising activity in February, according to the latest PMI figures.
But the purchasing managers' index (PMI) - a composite indicator of economic activity from CIPS and NTC Research, where 50 means no change on the previous month - fell to 53.2, from 55.8 in January.
The latest rise in output, at 55.9, was slower than January's 58, reflecting lower growth in new orders (53.7) and new export orders (53.6). Domestically, spending on IT and technology was robust. Demand in the US and Asia was strong, according to the companies in the survey, but the pound's strenth against the dollar and the euro hindered exports.
Companies made further inroads in backlogs (45.2) as stocks of finished goods (45.9) and purchases (45.8) both fell. Rising output and supply bottlenecks contributed to the latter, but businesses increased their quantities of purchases (53.4) to meet rising output.
Twice as many companies raised prices (14.2 per cent) as cut them, as metal prices - copper and steel, in particular - pushed the input price index to 60.6.
In the euro-zone, the manufacturing sector remained at January's three-year high growth rate, with the PMI holding at 52.5. Increased output, at 54.3, was led by Austria, followed by Ireland and Germany.
And in the US, the Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) February manufacturing report on business recorded a slowdown in growth. In the PMI, at 61.4. All 20 sectors of the manufacturing industry reported growth, the ISM said.
* More information on the UK and euro-zone PMIs is available at www.ntc-research.com
. The full text of the ISM reports on the US economy for February, and previous reports, is available at http://www.ism.ws/ISMReport/index.cfm.