UK factory activity and consumer lending slow in early 2018

The manufacturing sector in China continued to expand in February, and at a slightly faster rate, the latest survey from Caixin revealed on Thursday with a manufacturing PMI score of 51.6.

According to Markit/CIPS, the combination of ongoing expansion and expected future output growth encouraged job creation at United Kingdom manufacturers in February with employment rising for the nineteenth month in a row.

Nevertheless, the index reading was down from the flash estimate of 56.1 and 58.4 recorded in January to signal the weakest pace of growth since August a year ago.

Overall, new orders saw a moderation in growth in line with the main index, but orders from overseas customers picked up growth. They recorded their first monthly fall in six months, pushing the annual growth rate to a six-month low of 2.2 percent.

Output grew at the quickest pace since the survey began in March 2000, underpinned by further rapid increase in new orders. That could change as businesses run into capacity constraints and respond to an increasingly tight labor market with higher wages.

Alongside higher employment, firms also raised their purchasing activity to support output growth, while efforts to build inventories were also mentioned. This was despite new export sales rising to the softest extent for three months.

On the price front, unfavourable exchange rates contributed to an increase in firms' costs, although both input and output price inflation eased, according to IHS Markit.

"It was promising to see that India s manufacturing sector remained in growth territory, as the impact of July s Goods and Services Tax continues to dissipate", said Aashna Dodhia, Economist at IHS Markit and author of the report.

The amount of time taken for inputs to be delivered to manufacturers continued to increase, albeit modestly, with some reports linking delays to poor weather conditions.

Business confidence strengthened to its highest level for almost a year in February.

This led to a rise in output prices the 16th straight month, although at the slowest pace compared to the last four months.

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