UK manufacturing growth 'slowed in April'

Mini plant, Oxford
Image caption The manufacturing PMI has shown growth for five consecutive months

Growth in the UK manufacturing sector slowed in April, according to an influential survey.

The Markit/CIPS purchasing managers' index (PMI) dropped to 50.5 in April, down from 51.9 in March.

Any figure about 50 indicates an expansion of the sector. April's figure was the fifth consecutive month of growth.

The slowdown was partly blamed on the steepest fall in new orders since May 2009.

"The good news is that manufacturing clocked up a fifth straight rise, whilst cost pressures have eased a little and some firms are still recruiting," said Lee Hopley, chief economist at EEF, the manufacturers' organisation.

"The bad is that ever-present eurozone woes are still bearing down on the short term outlook, with some suggestion of renewed downward pressure on export orders over the past month."

It is one of the first signs of the state of the economy in the second quarter of 2012, following the news that the economy has contracted 0.2% in the first three months of the year.

The manufacturing sector accounts for about 11% of the UK economy.

Howard Archer, chief UK economist at IHS Global Insight, said the survey was: "Disappointing and an early blow to hopes that the economy will return to growth in the second quarter, especially as the extra day's public holiday resulting from the Queen's Diamond Jubilee will hold back overall economic activity during the quarter."

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