01 March 2005 | Gareth Mytton
UK manufacturers were grateful to continued strong demand at home as activity rose in February, according to the latest purchasing managers' index (PMI).
The overall PMI - a composite indicator of sector conditions from CIPS and NTC Research in which 50 indicates no change on the previous month - stayed at 51.8, the same as in January.
Another slight fall in exports, owing to the strength of sterling against the dollar, failed to slow the new orders index, which rose to 53.
Companies increased their purchasing activity only slightly, as the stocks of purchases index rose to 49.4. Suppliers' delivery times lengthened again amid raw materials shortages, of metals and oil in particular, although the index of 45.3 was the highest since 2003.
Input prices also fell, and at 66.8, inflation was the weakest since last summer.
Manufacturing activity in the euro-zone was also unchanged, according to NTC Research's manufacturing PMI.
The index remained at 51.9, partly owing to a marginal rise in output and a slowdown in new orders.
But activity fell in the US, where the Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) PMI put the PMI at 55.3, a fall on January's 56.4. Of the 20 industries in the survey, 13 said activity was up on the month, one reported no change and six said it had fallen.
• Coverage of previous months' manufacturing, construction and services 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 February and previous months is available at http://www.ism.ws/ISMReport/index.cfm.