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UK Manufacturing Sector Growth At 16-Month High

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The UK manufacturing sector expanded the most in more than a year in July as output growth hit a 32-month high due to further loosening of the lockdown conditions in place due to the coronavirus disease, final data from IHS Markit showed Monday.

The IHS Markit/Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply final manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index rose to a 16-month high of 53.3 in July from 50.1 in June. However, this was below the flash estimate of 53.6.

Respondents noted that manufacturers either restarted or raised production in response to clients reopening. Although this is a positive start, it will take several months of growth to fully recoup the output lost since the start of the pandemic.

Production was raised to the greatest extent since November 2017. Driven by domestic demand, new orders expanded for the first time since February. Meanwhile, export business fell for the ninth straight month.

The survey showed that sentiment among manufacturers reached its highest since March 2018.

Employment fell for the sixth consecutive month in July, albeit to the least marked extent since March. Purchasing activity was raised for the first time since last October.

Average input prices rose for the eighth month in a row, and at the fastest pace in over a year. The pass-through of higher costs resulted in a further rise in output charges.

"Despite the solid start to the recovery, the road left to travel remains long and precarious," Rob Dobson, director at IHS Markit, said.

There is a significant risk of further redundancies and of furloughed workers not returning unless demand and confidence stage more substantial and long-lasting rebounds in the months ahead, Dobson added.

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