UK factory output eased last month, although there was a welcome lift in export orders, a report according to the respected CIPS/Markit purchasing managers’ index (PMI) survey for November.
The report posted a reading of 52.7 in November - where 50 separates growth from contraction, a greater-than expected shortfall on October’s revised 55.2 figure, although that represented a 16-month high.
November’s reading is above the long-run average, and represents the 32nd month in a row of rising manufacturing production.
The report added that export levels rose for the third consecutive month, boosted by new business from the US, Germany, Sweden, Turkey, the Middle East, Japan and China.
The Government is keen to boost the UK’s exports as it attempts to rebalance the country’s economy away from its reliance on financial services.
However, the report pointed out that the strongest growth in the sector came from consumer goods producers, with the industry still focused around domestic consumption.
“While the improvement in recent months is a welcome trend, scratching beneath the surface of the manufacturing numbers still exposes a number of weaknesses,” said Rob Dobson, senior economist at Markit.
“Growth remains heavily focused on the domestic consumer, while the strong gains at large-scale producers have yet to filter through to small and medium sized enterprises.”
“A broadening of the expansion is necessary if the nascent recovery is to be sustained.”