Latest data released by Markit - 1 February 2021

The preliminary report can be found here. A positive revision to the initial estimate but the reading still marks a three-month low as virus restrictions and supply-chain disruptions impact manufacturing activity to start the new year. Markit notes that:

"Whereas many countries are seeing manufacturers provide a much-needed support to economic growth as the service sector is hit by COVID-19, the UK's manufacturing sector has come close to stalling. A mixture of harsher COVID-19 restrictions and Brexit led to near-record supply-chain disruptions, lower exports and increased costs. The impact was felt most at consumer goods producers, who reported steep falls in output and new orders. There were also early signs that smaller companies were being hit harder by the tougher operating environment than medium- and larger-scale producers.

"The hope is that the current constraints will start to ease once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, vaccines are rolled out and ports, suppliers and manufacturers adapt to the new trading environment post-Brexit. If so, supply, demand and production bottlenecks should slowly work through the system and growth will not be knocked too far off course through 2021. However, there is no swift end in sight to these headwinds, and the longer the current circumstances remain the greater the potential damage to the sector and its suppliers."