LONDON – British manufacturing expanded in March at the weakest pace in 13 months and price pressures, which had previously shown some signs of moderating, worsened, a survey showed on Friday.
The S&P Global/CIPS UK Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell to 55.2 – revised down from a preliminary “flash” reading of 55.5 – from 58.0 in February.
The survey’s gauge of new orders sank to its lowest level since January 2021, hurt by slowing domestic demand and the sixth drop in seven months for export orders.
Survey compiler S&P Global linked the weakness in export orders to geopolitical tensions, Brexit and ongoing difficulty with supply chains, though delays were their shortest since October 2020.
Overall, the survey pointed to tougher times ahead for Britain’s economy, with growth set to slow amid a global surge in inflation pressure, fuelled by turmoil in commodity markets following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“The end of the opening quarter saw a marked growth slowdown in the UK manufacturing sector,” S&P Global said.
The survey’s indicators of input costs and output prices rose in March after they had receded in previous months from record high levels, pointing to persistent inflation pressure.
Consumer price inflation hit a 30-year high of 6.2% in February and the government’s budget watchdog last week forecast it would go close to 9% in late 2022, contributing to the biggest fall in living standards since at least the 1950s.