Manufacturing ends 2015 on a low
UK factory output ended the year by growing at its slowest pace for three months, a report has said. The closely-watched CIPS/Markit purchasing managers' index (PMI) survey posted a reading of 51.9 in December - where 50 separates growth from contraction.
This is down from 52.5 in November, and the sector's 16-month peak of 55.5 in October. Economists had expected growth in December to come in at 52.8.
Manufacturing production over 2015 was lower than the previous year, the survey added.
However, the report pointed out that factory output rose for the 33rd month in a row, underpinned by higher domestic orders and exports to such countries as continental Europe, the US and China.
The consumer goods sector remained the prime driver of production and new order growth, despite seeing its rates of expansion ease over the month.
It added that manufacturing costs continued to fall at a sharp pace during December, due to declines in oil and other commodity prices.
Rob Dobson, senior economist at Markit, said: "The UK manufacturing sector ended 2015 on a disappointing note, with its rate of growth slowing further from October's recent high back down towards the stagnation mark.
"This suggests that industry will make, at best, only a marginal positive contribution to broader economic growth in the final quarter of the year."
This data comes after shock revisions to growth in the third and second quarters, following worse-than-expected borrowing figures, meant the economy ended 2015 on a sour note.
December's revisions from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) meant growth stood at 0.4% in the three months to the end of September, down from the initial estimate of 0.5%.