Growth in Britain's manufacturing sector cooled from its "scorching" pace in March as it slowed to the lowest rate for eight months, according to new figures.
The strong pound appears to have proved a drag on exports last month as the sector recorded a worse-than-expected reading of 55.3 for the closely-watched CIPS/Markit purchasing managers' index survey – where the 50 mark separates growth from contraction.
It was a sharp fall from a reading of 56.2 for February.
The survey found that manufacturers continued to scale up production "at a solid clip" and economists said that while the sector had lost some steam during the first quarter, it was unlikely to herald a new slump.
Rob Dobson, senior economist at Markit, said: "Growth is merely hot rather than scorching, and the take home messages from the March survey are that the recovery remains slow and continues to drive strong job creation."
But the figures are likely to come as a blow to the prospects of rebalancing the economy.