Manufacturers battle to meet rising demand

31 May 2004
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01 June 2004 | Gareth Mytton

UK manufacturers enjoyed another rise in activity in May, according to the latest PMI figures.

The purchasing managers' index (PMI) - a composite indicator of economic activity from CIPS and NTC Research, where 50 means no change on the previous month - rose to 55.6, from 55.2 in April.

Purchasing activity rose to meet demand in the thirteenth consecutive month of growing output (57.1). Although customer spending on capital equipment weakened, new orders for consumer and intermediate goods grew strongly.

Domestic demand helped the new order index to 56.5 and the new export orders index to 54.7.

Higher oil and steel prices fuelled rapid inflation in input prices (66.8), the fastest increase since 1995. But suppliers' delivery times worsened again, partly owing to shortages of some raw materials.

In the euro-zone, manufacturing activity rose for the ninth successive month, according to NTC Research. The PMI for May was 54.7, with France enjoying the fastest growth.

Manufacturing activity in the US grew more quickly in May than in April, said the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) in its Manufacturing Report on Business. The PMI rose to 62.8 from 62.4.

American purchasers said rising commodity and energy prices were their main worries.

* More information on the UK and euro-zone PMIs is available at The full text of the ISM reports on the US economy for May, and previous reports, is available at


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