Stronger rates of output and new order growth were the main factors boosting the PMI in September. Stock building also had a positive contribution to the headline index, with pre-production inventories rising at the fastest pace since December 2016.
Input buying increased at the strongest rate for four years in September. A number of manufacturers commented on forward purchasing in response to global trade tensions and longer delivery times from domestic suppliers.
There were signs that manufacturers have become more cautious about the year-ahead growth outlook, with business sentiment moderating to its lowest since March 2017. Moreover, staffing numbers were expanded at the weakest pace for 13 months in September.