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UK Manufacturing Sector Logs Sharp Downturn

The UK manufacturing sector logged another contraction in May as the public lockdowns, company shutdowns and social distancing measures mandated to combat the spread of coronavirus, or Covid-19, caused further disruption, final data from IHS Markit showed Monday.

The final IHS Markit/Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index rose to 40.7 in May from a record-low 32.6 in April. The flash reading was 40.6.

The score was at its seventh-lowest level ever and at depths unseen outside of the current pandemic and the global financial crisis of 2008-09.

The survey showed that output, new orders and employment contracted at some of the fastest rates during the 28-year survey history, albeit less sharply than the records set in April.

Confidence among manufacturers rose to a three-month high in May but remained weak amid uncertainty about the path ahead.

Input cost inflation remained mild in May. Companies partly passed on the increase in costs to clients through a rise in selling prices.

Changes to working practices, uncertainty about how long the Covid-19 restrictions may be in place for, weak demand and Brexit worries all suggest the UK is set for a drawn-out economic recovery, Rob Dobson, Director at IHS Markit, said.

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