IHS Markit said, the impact of Brexit preparations remained a prominent feature at manufacturers in March. Efforts to build safety stocks led to survey-record increases in inventories of both purchases and finished products. Trends in output and employment also strengthened as stockpiling operations at clients led to improved inflows of new work.
The headline seasonally adjusted IHS Markit/CIPS PMI rose to a 13-month high of 55.1 in March, up from a revised reading of 52.1 in February (originally reported as 52.0). The PMI has remained above the 50.0 benchmark for 32 months in a row.
The trend in manufacturing output improved in March. Companies stepped up production to build-up inventories in advance of Brexit and also meet rising inflows of new work (mainly reflecting stockpiling at clients). New business improved from both domestic and export markets. This had a positive impact on staff hiring, with jobs growth recorded following back-to-back reductions at the start of the year. The rate of increase in stocks of purchases hit a survey record high for the third month running in March.
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