Mirroring the overall trend for business activity, latest data signalled that manufacturing new order volumes expanded at the slowest pace for five months. This contributed to more cautious purchasing activity in March, alongside renewed efforts to streamline inventories. Reflecting this, preproduction stocks were accumulated at the weakest pace since last September, while finished goods inventories dropped for the first time in six months.
Input cost inflation meanwhile picked up in March, which survey respondents attributed to rising commodity prices (particularly metals). The overall rate of input price inflation was the fastest for twoand-a-half years. Efforts to pass on higher costs contributed to an upturn in factory gate price inflation to its strongest since November 2014.