MANUFACTURING took a surprise upturn in the UK and US in September, according to purchasing managers’ indices (PMI) for the sector, released yesterday.
In the UK the index rose from 49.4 in August to 51.1 last month, said Markit and the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS). Any figure above 50 indicates economic expansion.
The rise indicates a sharp turnaround for the sector, which declined through the previous two months.
Other figures are weak, however – the index for new export business fell to 45, its lowest for two years, and the continuing turmoil in the Eurozone is damaging business confidence.
Some economists fear the uptick in manufacturing output may prove to be a blip. “The reading is still below its pre-recession average and is well under the levels seen at the start of 2011,” said Rob Harbron from the Centre for Economics and Business Research. “The manufacturing sector remains fragile.”
Meanwhile, the Institute of Supply Management’s factory index came in at 51.6 for US manufacturers, up from 50.6 in September.
The index has stayed positive despite the economic gloom and budgetary standoffs, offering support to the wider economy, say analysts. “This modest rebound demonstrates that the economy hasn’t fallen off a cliff,” said Capital Economics’ Paul Ashworth.