However, manufacturers reported some of the worst supply chain disruption on record as global shipping delays and trade frictions from Brexit hold back the sector. The manufacturing output PMI hit a nine-month low, edging down to 50.5 from 50.7.
“The manufacturing sector’s performance worsened amid escalating Brexit-related export losses and supply chain disruptions,” said Chris Williamson, economist at IHS Markit. “Brexit was also the most commonly cited cause of supply delays.”
Some 58pc of manufacturing firms reported longer delivery times from suppliers as factories faced the second-worst disruption on record. Problems are mounting after a quiet January as many stockpiled before the end of the Brexit transition period.
However, Pantheon Macro economist Samuel Tombs predicted output will bounce back in the second quarter of 2021 as “firms get used to new Brexit trade rules” and replenish their stocks.
He said the recovery in the overall PMI “suggests that businesses are continuing to adapt to lockdown conditions”.