Page last updated at 09:59 GMT, Monday, 1 December 2008

Record decline in manufacturing

Welder at UK factory
Collapsing new orders have been blamed for the weak figures

British manufacturing shrank in November at the fastest rate since the figures began being collected in 1992.

The Purchasing Managers' Index fell to 34.4 from October's figure of 40.7, which was both the lowest level and biggest fall seen on the index.

The fall in the figures was based on a collapse in new orders.

An economist at Markit, which collects the data together with the CIPS, said the figures show that more support is needed for the sector.

"The scale of the downturn in the UK manufacturing PMI data during November is unprecedented," said Rob Dobson.

"These data suggest that the UK government and Monetary Policy Committee may need to consider additional support to the sector alongside recent sharp cuts in central bank borrowing rates."

The Bank of England's rate setters are due to make another decision on the cost of borrowing on Thursday, with a cut widely expected.

Alan Clarke at BNP Paribas described the index as being at "absolutely horrific levels".

"We are already seeing a pretty rapid pace of contraction in hard manufacturing activity in the UK and it is going to get even worse."

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