Factories start to crank up the heat

UK manufacturers continued to see output growing in October. Picture: Getty
UK manufacturers continued to see output growing in October. Picture: Getty
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Manufacturers are on the rebound after a flurry of global data yesterday suggested that the worst may be over for the sector.

The closely monitored purchasing managers’ index (PMI) showed growth in UK manufacturing output and new orders at near to recent 19-year records.

The overall benchmark figure for the Cips/Markit survey recorded a level of 56 in October, well above the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction.

While down on the 56.3 of the previous month and August’s recent peak of 57.1, economists said manufacturers continue to perform well.

It came as figures showed US factory output growing at its fastest pace in two-and-a-half years while Asian manufacturers reported the fastest upturn in months, led by China.

The latest batch of PMIs, which survey thousands of manufacturers worldwide, showed US factory activity rising more than expected in October despite a partial government shutdown during the first 16 days of the month.

Manufacturing activity also picked up in Canada, where growth rose to its strongest level more than two years, while Braz-ilian manufacturers eked out their first gain in four months and Mexico’s factories remained stagnant.

While only accounting for about 11 per cent of Britain’s output, the current pace of growth in manufacturing should raise hopes of another quarter of strong growth for the UK economy.

The Cips survey suggests manufacturing output is expanding at a quarterly rate of between 1 per cent and 1.5 per cent. How-ever, the sector remains 9 per cent smaller than its pre-crisis peak, while services has already closed this gap.

Cips’ chief executive David Noble said: “British manufacturers swept into the fourth quarter with a steady wind behind them, bolstered by strengthening markets both at home and abroad, as well as output growth across the consumer, investment and intermediate industries.”

Colin Edwards, senior economist at the Centre for Economics and Business Research, added: “The positive sounds being made by the UK’s manufacturers provide further evidence of the gear change that has taken place within the UK.

“Furthermore, the improvement in both export and employment indicators may serve to sooth concerns about the sustainability of the UK’s current rebound.

“An improving labour market combined with strengthening exports will provide the UK economy with the support it needs as government spending falls back.”

The Cips survey showed that employment rose for the sixth consecutive month in October, suggesting that the sector is creating jobs at a solid pace.

October saw average selling prices rise for the fourth straight month, reflecting a combination of rising input costs and continued growth of new orders. Purchase price inflation eased further from August’s two-year high.