Domestic demand boosts manufacturing

manufacturing activity unexpectedly picked up a little speed in November as domestic demand offset falling exports due to sluggish orders from the eurozone and emerging markets, a survey showed yesterday.

Markit/CIPS’s UK Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to 53.5 from 53.3 in October, reaching its highest level in four months and keeping well above the 50.0 mark denoting expansion. Economists taking part in a Reuters poll had expected the index to weaken slightly to 53.0.

Growth in new orders helped push up employment in the sector to a four-month high.

Sign up to our Business newsletter

Sign up to our Business newsletter

The survey adds to signs that a slowdown in Britain’s economic recovery at the end of 2014 is unlikely to be sharp.

That will be welcome news for Chancellor George Osborne who is set to deliver a half-yearly update on the economy tomorrow. Osborne has warned that Britain is not immune to weakness in the global economy, and yesterday’s survey showed manufacturing exports continued to fall – although by less than in October – as orders from the European Union, emerging economies and Russia slowed.

Orders from the eurozone were also hit by the weakening of the euro against sterling, survey compilers Markit said. Inflation pressures in the manufacturing sector remained subdued as input costs fell for a third consecutive month, while output prices increased at their slowest pace since June of last year, reflecting the exchange rate and low commodity prices.

Manufacturing accounts for about 10 per cent of the economy. A survey for the services sector is due to be published tomorrow.