01 April 2009 | Jake Kanter
Activity in the UK manufacturing industry is continuing to decline, but at the slowest rate in five months.
In the latest CIPS/Markit Purchasing Managers' Index, released this morning, the sector recorded 39.1 in March, compared with 34.7 a month earlier.
A figure below 50 demonstrates contraction.
In March last year it was 50.6.
Output was at 40.5 in March and, while this signals continued contraction, it was a sharp recovery from the record low of 31.4 in February. The research showed companies of all sizes noted a slower drop in output. In March last year output was at 50.6.
New orders and new export orders also showed signs of recovery, although both remained below the 50 mark.
Employment activity fell again, but was slightly higher than the record low in February. The report said large firms made the most redundancies last month.
Input prices contracted for the fifth month in a row. Lower prices were attributed to falling demand for raw materials, due to the recession.
Roy Ayliffe, director at CIPS, said the results were better news for the industry: "UK manufacturers voiced a sigh of relief as March PMI data posted its highest reading since last October."