Reading Time | < 1 min

UK manufacturing sees drop in growth

Share this article

The country’s manufacturing sector expanded at its slowest pace in nearly two years during May, new figures have suggested.

Much hope has been pinned on the ability of Britain’s manufacturers, buoyed by a weak pound, to drive a rebalanced economy.

But while the sector has enjoyed a surge in output over recent months, the latest data indicate a slowdown in activity.

The Markit/CIPS manufacturing purchasing managers’ index slipped to 52.1 last month, down from the 54.4 registered in April.

While any score above 50 marks expansion rather than contraction, the new figure points to a sharp downgrading in the rate of growth.

Although the index remained in positive territory, May represented its lowest point since September 2009.

According to the survey, which industry watchers take seriously, production and new orders declined for the first time in almost two years.

Smaller manufacturers felt the hit the hardest.

Rob Dobson, senior economist at Markit, said that “manufacturing had moved from rapid expansion to near-stagnation” and that “domestic market weakness was the main drag on order books and output”.

David Noble, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply, added that growth in the sector may have plateaued: “With the level of export orders still rising and the rate of inflation easing somewhat, we expect that May will come to be seen as an anomaly. However, the underlying trend is likely to remain one of slower growth compared with the start of the year.”