The latest Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) data shows a return to growth of business activity, although the expansion was centred on the service sector while manufacturing registered a modest decline.
The seasonally adjusted headline Bank of Scotland PMI – a single-figure measure of the month-on-month change in combined manufacturing and services output – improved to 50.7 during April, from March’s 49.4. Although indicative of marginal growth, the latest PMI reading was the best recorded by the survey in the year-to-date.
The survey signalled a reversal of recent sector trends, with services activity returning to modest growth in line with a gain in new business. Companies reportedly benefited from increased marketing and a modest strengthening of market confidence compared to March.
In contrast, manufacturers registered a fall in output for the second time of 2015 so far. This was largely reflective of another decline in new orders. Lower foreign demand was mentioned as a factor pushing total new work lower. There were reports that a weak euro had undermined demand from clients based in the Euro zone.
Meanwhile a third successive month of employment growth was recorded during April. Some companies reported gearing up for expected business expansion over the coming months. Service sector companies were the primary source of higher employment as manufacturing payroll numbers declined slightly.