01 April 2005 | Gareth Mytton
Another rise in manufacturing activity led UK companies to take on more staff in March for the first time since November, according to the latest purchasing managers' index (PMI).
The employment index stood at 51.4, above the 50 figure that indicates no change on the previous month, in the report compiled by CIPS and NTC Research.
The overall PMI, a composite indicator of sector conditions, rose to 52, from 51.6 in February, owing to improvements in new orders, output, employment, quantities of purchases, and suppliers' delivery times.
High costs for oil, metals, plastics, energy and packaging kept the input price index high, at 63.9, although this was the lowest inflation since last April.
But in the euro-zone, manufacturing activity slipped into near-stagnation. The NTC Research report put the PMI at 50.4, down from 51.9 in February. Orders grew only marginally.
The US manufacturing sector continued to grow strongly in March, however. In the Institute for Supply Management's (ISM) manufacturing report on business, the March PMI was 55.2, a 0.1 fall on February's figure.
• 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 March and previous months is available at http://www.ism.ws/ISMReport/index.cfm.