UK manufacturing grows despite coronavirus pressures

LONDON (AFP) – UK manufacturing activity rebounded in February to a 10-month high on easing Brexit uncertainty, but supply chains were nevertheless pressured by coronavirus concerns, data showed yesterday.

The IHS Markit UK Manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) stood at 51.7 last month, the group said in a statement.

That was the highest level since April 2019 and compared with a neutral print of 50.0 in January. A reading above 50 indicates growth. “Growth of manufacturing output accelerated… as domestic demand continued to recover on the back of reduced political uncertainty,” IHS Markit said in a statement.

“Supply chain disruptions were rapidly emerging, however, as the outbreak of COVID-19 led to sizeable raw material delivery delays, rising input costs and increased pressure on stocks of purchases.”

The research group added that “companies reported reduced new work intakes from Asia – especially China – due to the COVID-19 outbreak”.

Despite those concerns, manufacturing output regained composure last month after the convincing general election victory for Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives in December that enabled the UK to finally leave the European Union on January 31.

A worker at perforating company Bion carries a piece of perforated metal at the factory in Reading. PHOTO: AP