04 February 2005 | Kate Williamson
Manufacturing output grew in January for the twentieth successive month, according to the latest purchasing managers' index (PMI).
But the overall PMI - a composite indicator of economic activity from CIPS and NTC Research, in which 50 means no change on the previous month - declined for the second consecutive month, from 53.3 to 51.8.
The companies surveyed linked the rise in output to an increase in new business. But although the new order index stood at 51.9, it showed the slowest growth for more than eighteen months. This was reflected in the easing of the quantity of purchases index from 52.7 to 50.5.
Input price inflation, rising to 72.5 from 71.7 in December, continued to put purchasers in a difficult position, with the cost of metals, energy, oil, fuel and plastics all increasing.
Supply shortages of certain raw materials added to supplier delivery times, but delays were the least marked for fourteen months.
In the euro-zone, January's manufacturing PMI rose for the second consecutive month, from 51.4 in December 2004 to 51.9 last month, although growth was still slow compared with much of last year.
France again recorded the strongest growth in output, although expansion in Germany and Spain and a return to growth in Italy have narrowed the gap.
In the US, the Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) manufacturing report on business put the PMI at 56.4, down slightly from 57.3 in December.
Coverage of previous months' services, manufacturing and construction PMI reports is available at http://www.supplymanagement.com/pmi
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 manufacturing economy for December and previous months is available at http://www.ism.ws/ISMReport/index.cfm