Sharp slowdown in manufacturing growth

MANUFACTURING GROWTH slowed sharply in April, underlining the uneven nature of an economic recovery that is at the heart of a national election just six days away.

Separate data showed consumer lending rising sharply, suggesting that the recovery is being driven by spending.

Sterling hit a three-week low against the euro after the Markit/CIPS UK Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index, a closely watched monthly business survey, suffered its biggest fall in more than two years.

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Coming after a surprising slowdown in growth in the first quarter, the survey will make gloomy reading for Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne, who promised a manufacturing revival shortly after coming to power in 2010.

The Conservative Party remains deadlocked in opinion polls with the Labour Party and the recent signs of a slowdown in the economy have complicated the Conservatives’ decision to put the recovery at the centre of their campaign.

But separate data from the Bank of England showed households were happy to borrow more heavily and at the fastest pace since before the financial crisis.