The British manufacturing sector maintained a steady growth in March, but the pace of expansion for the first quarter as a whole was the weakest in a year, survey results from IHS Markit showed Tuesday.
The IHS Markit/Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index rose slightly to 55.1 in March from 55.0 in February. The score was forecast to fall to 54.7.
The average PMI score for the first quarter was 55.1.
Manufacturing production rose for the twentieth successive month in March. The rate of expansion accelerated to the sharpest in the year-so-far.
Companies continued to report solid inflows of new work from both domestic and overseas markets in March.
However, suggesting that the underlying strength of the upturn has downshifted since the turn of the year, average rates of expansion in production and new business over the first quarter were lower than in recent quarters.
Compared to official data, the performance through the first quarter is consistent with only a 0.4-0.5 percent gain in production volumes, a considerable slide from the fourth quarter’s 1.3 percent increase, Rob Dobson, director at IHS Markit, said.
The report suggests that the recovery in the industrial sector lost a bit of steam in the first quarter, Ruth Gregory, an economist at Capital Economics, said. But it should still go some way to offsetting the weakness in high-street spending in early 2018.
Staffing levels increased for the twentieth month running in March, albeit at the slowest pace during the year-so-far.
On the price front, rates of inflation in input costs and output charges remained elevated despite decelerating since February. Input prices increased due to raw material shortages, supply chain disruption and rising commodity prices.
Manufacturers maintained a positive outlook in March. Almost 55 percent of companies forecast that output will be higher in 12 months’ time.