Britain’s manufacturing sector continues to struggle, having declined at the fastest rate in over a year last month.

Overall manufacturing conditions, as measured by the purchasing managers’ index of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply, saw their worst month since December 2001.

The index fell from 48.1 in February to 46.1 – the fourth month in succession it has registered a reading below 50.0, the threshold between expansion and contraction.

In particular, manufacturing orders fell sharply, with this component of the index slumping from 48.5 to 44.9 last month. The Institute attributed the downturn to “uncertainty amongst clients prior to the declaration of war in Iraq.”

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff