A decline in factory activity during September today fuelled fears that the manufacturing sector's recovery is running out of steam.
The Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply's (CIPS) headline measure, which provides a single figure snapshot of operating conditions in the sector, posted 49.5, down from 49.7 in August and below the no-change mark of 50.
CIPS chief executive David Noble said: "The latest data will disappoint those hoping for a quick economic recovery.
"However it must be remembered that after hitting an unprecedented low in November last year, we have seen the manufacturing industry make a significant rebound."
The CIPS purchasing managers' survey showed growth for the first time since April last year during July before faltering in August and September.
Total new orders increased for the third successive month in September, but to a lesser extent than in previous months.
Vicky Redwood, UK economist at Capital Economics, said: "It seems that the recovery is struggling to maintain momentum now that the boost from the easing in destocking is fading."Reuse content