BREXIT uncertainty and concern over the economic and political outlook is continuing to weigh on the UK manufacturing sector, which contracted again in October, writes Scott Wright.

The UK manufacturing purchasing managers index (PMI) remained stuck in negative territory last month, despite companies reigniting stock-building ahead of the now-delayed Brexit date of October 31. The seasonally-adjusted HIS Markit/ CIPS PMI rose to 49.6 in October, climbing for a second month in a row but still below the 50 which separates expansion from contraction. The report found the downturn in manufacturing production continued, albeit the rate slowed. Firms reported weaker inflows of new business, especially from the domestic market, which led to output scaling back. This was partly offset by stockpiling ahead of October 31. Brexit worry led to new orders falling for a sixth month in a row, although new export orders rose for the first time in seven months, as clients in the EU brought forward orders expecting an October Brexit. Job losses were reported for a seventh consecutive month.

IHS Markit’s Rob Dobson said: “The underlying picture looks even darker than even these disappointing headline numbers suggest, as output and new orders fell despite short-term boosts from stock-building activity”.