Mixed news for UK plc as output eases but exports up
UK factory output eased last month, although there was a welcome lift in export orders, a report said.
The closely watched CIPS/Markit purchasing managers' index survey posted a reading of 52.7 in November - where the figure 50 separates growth from contraction.
This was a greater-than-expected shortfall on October's revised 55.2 figure, although this was 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, China and other Asia-Pacific nations. 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.
Rob Dobson, senior economist at Markit, said: "While the improvement in recent months is a welcome trend, scratching beneath the surface of the manufacturing numbers still exposes a number of weaknesses. Growth remains heavily focused on the domestic consumer."