Belfast Telegraph

Manufacturing sector in UK suffers first decline for almost three years

By Henry Saker-Clark

The UK manufacturing sector plunged into decline for the first time in almost three years in May as the stockpiling push driven by no-deal Brexit preparations came to a halt.

The IHS Markit/CIPS UK manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) showed a reading of 49.4 last month - down from 53.1 in May.

The figure slid below 50, the marker which indicates growth, for the first time since July 2016.

Large inventories prior to the original March Brexit deadline meant that "manufacturers reported increased difficulties in convincing clients to commit to new contracts during May", the PMI report said.

The total volume of new business orders fell for the first time in seven months. New export business also declined for the second month running, and at the quickest rate in more than four years.

Manufacturers reported lower demand from Asia and Europe, with EU demand sliding as "clients divert supply chains away from the UK", it said.

The downturn in new orders weighed on output and employment during the month, with manufacturing employment falling for the second consecutive month.

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