By Jonathan Davies

The UK's manufacturing sector slowed down in August, according to a closely watched survey.

The Markit purchasing managers' index (PMI) fell from 51.9 to 51.5 in August, considerably below the average figure over the past two-and-a-half-years. Any figure above 50 indicates growth.

In addition to slowing growth in the sector, Markit also revealed that the number of jobs in manufacturing fell for the first time in two years.

"The UK manufacturing sector remains in a holding pattern, with production growth hovering around the stagnation mark and marginal job losses reported for the first time in 26 months," said Rob Dobson from Markit.

"Export order volumes continue to disappoint, with the sterling exchange rate, weak sales growth to the eurozone and the slowdown in China all having an impact."

Mark Stephenson, UK manufacturing industry leader at Deloitte, said: “The small dip of 0.4 in today’s UK manufacturing PMI reflects wider economic concerns, particularly in reaction to the volatility in China and continued weakness in Europe.

“Slowing growth in China and reported lower manufacturing output is a real concern for the industry. A reduction in demand from China for imported goods would affect both direct UK imports and those of the broader global manufacturing base that UK manufacturers supply. The supply chains of many UK manufacturers depend upon Chinese manufacturers and will be impacted to varying degrees. As a result, firms may see rising costs and supply difficulties."