SCOTLAND’s private-sector economy remained close to stagnation in August, a survey shows, as the rate of manufacturing decline eased and services sector growth slowed.

Royal Bank of Scotland’s business activity index for the private-sector economy north of the Border edged up from 50.2 in July to 50.3 in August on a seasonally adjusted basis, but remained only marginally above the level of 50 deemed to separate expansion from contraction.

READ MORE: Ian McConnell: No escape from Johnson’s dire Brexit farce in Paris metro and airport

Only five of the 12 UK nations and regions recorded any growth in output in August, according to Royal Bank’s survey. This is down from six of 12 in July, and the joint-lowest for more than three years.

Economists have highlighted the extent to which Brexit is weighing on the economy across the UK.

Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit, warned last week of an increased likelihood of UK recession. This warning followed surveys from the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply, compiled by IHS Markit, showing UK business activity fell in August.

READ MORE: Ian McConnell: Boris Johnson ‘oomph’ is no kind of answer to grave Brexit fears of millions

UK gross domestic product fell by 0.2 per cent in the second quarter, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Royal Bank’s survey found business confidence in Scotland, in terms of expectations about the prospects for increased activity on a 12-month horizon, was the weakest since July 2016.

New orders in the Scottish private-sector economy fell in August for the first time since May, with the decline driven by the manufacturing sector.

Royal Bank said: “Anecdotal evidence linked the decline to political uncertainty.”

Scottish private-sector employment fell for a second straight month in August, and at the sharpest pace since April 2016. Royal Bank noted the fall was nevertheless “only marginal overall”.

READ MORE: Ian McConnell: A gift for Johnson to stop very bad Brexit days for millions in the UK

Malcolm Buchanan, who chairs Royal Bank’s Scotland board, said: “Political uncertainty continued to weigh down expectations, with business confidence the weakest since July 2016. The level of positive sentiment in Scotland was the second-lowest across the 12 monitored UK areas, with only Northern Ireland holding a weaker outlook. Overall, the forward-looking components of the survey suggest firms are expecting further challenging times ahead.”

Input prices rose sharply again in Scotland in August, with firms citing sterling weakness as the main cause. The pound has been weighed down by Brexit uncertainty, and no-deal fears.