By Jonathan Davies

Manufacturing activity in the UK fell to a three-month low in December, according to a closely watched survey.

The Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers' Index was at 52.5 for the month. Any figure above 50 indicates growth in the sector.

Growth in UK production and new orders fell to the second slowest pace for 18 months, the survey showed.

In a similar survey, manufacturing growth in the eurozone was almost stagnant in December.

Markit senior economist Rob Dobson, said: "The latest survey provides further evidence of the ongoing slowdown in the UK manufacturing sector.

"The main weak spot remains exports, with overseas new order inflows stagnating amid weaker economic growth in key markets and the ongoing lethargy of the euro area."

Despite the disappointing end to 2014, Mr Dobson said growth in 2014 as a whole was strong.

"The positives to come out of the December readings are the continued growth, further solid increases to workforce numbers, a supportive domestic market that is driving new contract wins and the broad-base of the upturn across the consumer, intermediate and investment goods industries," he said.

There was also a rise in employment in the UK's manufacturing sector for the 20th consecutive month.

Eurozone

The eurozone PMI recorded a score of 50.6, showing little signs of growth.

December saw the slowest growth in output for a year-and-a-half, and the average PMI score of 50.4 for the final quarter is the worst growth in the sector for a year.

"Eurozone factory activity more or less stagnated again in December, rounding off a year which saw an initial, promising-looking upturn fade away and stall in the second half of the year," said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit.

"The weakness of factory output, combined with the subdued service sector growth signalled by the flash PMI, suggests the eurozone economy grew by just 0.1% in the fourth quarter."

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