According to the report from IHS Markit/CIPS, the downturn in the UK manufacturing sector continued in September. Although the contraction was shallower than the prior survey month, levels of output, new orders, new export business and employment nonetheless fell further. Stocks of purchases and input buying volumes also rose for the first time in recent months, as some companies restarted their Brexit preparations.
The headline seasonally adjusted PMI rose slightly to 48.3 in September, up from August's six-and-a-half year low of 47.4. The headline index has now remained below the neutral 50.0 mark for five successive months, its longest sequence below that mark since mid 2009.
Manufacturing production continued to contract in September, as companies cut back output in response to a further reduction in new order intakes. The investment goods sector was by far the weakest performer, seeing the steepest drops in both output and new business. This reflected, at least in part, a reluctance among clients to commit to capital expenditure due to ongoing market uncertainties (economic, political and Brexit related). The consumer goods sector was the only category to see output rise in September, as production in the intermediate goods industry stagnated. The outlook for both sectors remained lacklustre however, as intakes of new work decreased in both during September. Companies reported lower inflows of new work from the domestic and overseas markets, with the trend in the former especially weak.
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