Manufacturing sector reaches 14-month high

Paul Snell is managing editor at Supply Management
3 June 2013

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The UK manufacturing sector grew at its fastest rate in 14 months in May, thanks to stronger demand at home and abroad.

According to the latest Markit/CIPS UK Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), industry activity recorded a figure of 51.3 last month, above the 50 mark indicating expansion – the highest since March 2012. This also marks the second consecutive month of growth, with April’s initial figure of 48.9 having been revised to 50.2.

The growth was attributed to strong domestic new orders, and more modest growth in export orders from North America, east Asia, Russia, Germany and France. As a result of this increase in production, jobs were created in the sector for the first time in four months.

But while some intermediate and investment goods producers saw input prices fall, thanks to drops in the cost of commodities such as fuel and metals, consumer goods manufacturers suffered rises in the price of items such as paper, dairy products and timber.

“The industry, battered and bruised in the past 18 months, is still building from a low base and, as ever, there’s more work to do – but this is a solid foundation that bodes well for the future,” said CIPS chief executive David Noble.

Rob Dobson, senior economist at Markit, added: “Following the solid growth registered by the service sector in the first quarter GDP numbers, signs that the manufacturing sector is also recovering will add further weight to the Bank of England’s decision to wait-and-see before adding to its accommodative policy stance.”

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