British manufacturing growth slowed down during the month of December, but the sector looks set to achieve more than one percent growth for the fourth quarter.
The Markit/CIPS Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell to 57.3 last month from the previous month’s three-year high of 58.1.
This fell below the 58.0 forecast by analysts but still comfortably above the expansion mark of 50 while signalling a ninth consecutive month of industry growth.
The latest survey also revealed the sub-index for new orders slipped to 60.4 in December from November’s 19-year high of 63.9, but it remained well above the historical average.
While manufacturing output remains nine points below pre-recession levels, average input prices rose at a faster rate in December because of higher commodities and raw materials costs.
Rob Dobson, senior economist at survey compiler Markit, said the wider levels of growth in the sector should keep the recovery on track going into 2014.
“The domestic market remains resurgent and is a major factor driving production and new order inflows higher,” he said.
“UK exporters are also finding pockets of strength, with sales of capital and intermediate goods rising solidly to destinations such as Brazil, China, Ireland, Russia and the USA,” he added.
Lee Hopley, Chief Economist at EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, said the figures provide a springboard for a positive 2014 in the sector.
“Surer signs of a manufacturing recovery in Europe together with steady growth both at home, in the US and emerging markets should align to support solid expansion of UK manufacturing in the year ahead,” she said.
Ms Hopley added: “However, while we can hope to see more of the ground lost during the recession made up this year, we must also start to see new investments coming on stream if the sector is to secure a sustainable, long-term recovery.”