UK manufacturing shrinks at fastest rate for two years

Britain's manufacturing sector shrank for a second successive month in November and at its fastest pace since June 2009 as output and orders fell on weak global demand, a survey showed on Thursday, raising the risk the UK economy could be heading for another recession.

The decline in activity amid a worsening debt crisis in the euro zone forced companies to cut jobs at the fastest rate in more than two years, the purchasing managers' survey showed.

Output also fell last month at the fastest pace in more than two years and new orders contracted for a fifth straight month although at a slower pace than in October.

The Markit/CIPS Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) fell to 47.6 in November, its lowest level since June 2009, from an upwardly revised 47.8 in October.

The index, which was below the 50 mark that indicates growth in activity for a second month running, came in a touch above forecasts for a reading of 47.0.

"The manufacturing engine has run out of steam," said Rob Dobson, senior economist at Markit. "Output is falling at the fastest rate since early 2009 as order inflows from domestic and overseas markets continue to deteriorate. Jobs are consequently being lost at the fastest rate for over two years as producers seek to scale back operating capacity in line with a darkening economic outlook."