UK manufacturing picks up in October

Workers in a Greencorp sandwich factoryImage copyright Greencorp

The Markit/CIPS UK manufacturing PMI came in at 55.5, up from 51.8 in September – any figure over 50 suggests expansion.

The result was considerably better than had been expected, showing the highest reading since June 2014 and one of the fastest rises since the survey began.

The improvement comes despite bad news for the steel sector during the month.

The pound rose following the release of the survey. It was up a fifth of a cent against the euro and two fifths of a cent against the US dollar.

“The revival provides a tentative suggestion that the manufacturers are pulling out of their recent funk, having been dogged by recession since the start of the year, and may help boost economic growth in the fourth quarter,” said Rob Dobson, senior economist at survey compilers Markit.

“The big question now is whether this bounceback is a one-off or the start of a sustained re-emergence from recession.”

The manufacturing sector has contracted in the last two quarters, meaning that by the usual definition, it is in recession.

It contracted by 0.3% in the third quarter and 0.5% in the second quarter, according to official figures from the Office for National Statistics.

Ruth Miller, UK economist at Capital Economics, said that the “figures offer some hope that the sector may now have passed the worst”.

“However, we will need to see a few more upbeat surveys before a renaissance in UK manufacturing can be declared.”