March rounded off a positive start to 2012 for UK manufacturing, with output and new orders expanding throughout the opening quarter.
However, the increase in output was heavily supported by a depletion in backlogs of work and record inventory building. Cost-inflationary pressures are also intensifying owing to high oil and metal prices.
The seasonally adjusted Markit/CIPS UK Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to a 10-month high of 52.1 in March, from a revised reading of 51.5 in February.
The PMI has now signalled expansion for four successive months, with its average reading in the first quarter of 2012 (51.8) the highest since the second quarter of last year.