UK manufacturing contraction eases, orders still fall
Weak growth means public borrowing is not falling as Osborne planned earlier this year, and initial figures from a flagship Bank of England scheme to boost lending also released on Monday suggest any big benefit from this source is several months away.
Many economists expect Osborne will present figures on Wednesday showing he is no longer on track to meet the politically sensitive target of putting Britain's debt burden on a downward path by the time of the next election in 2015. That in turn could endanger Britain's triple-A credit rating, which Osborne has promised to defend vigorously.
The monthly Markit/CIPS survey of purchasing managers in the manufacturing industry confirmed the tentative nature of any recovery as the economy emerges from nine months of recession.
The PMI index jumped to 49.1 - its highest level since August - from October's downwardly revised 47.3. That beat the median forecast of 48.0 in a Reuters poll of economists and exceeded even the highest prediction of 48.9.
But the index is still below the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction, where it has been since April.
"We are getting closer to the 50 level, so it is moving in the right direction, but it goes to confirm our view that UK economic activity in the fourth quarter remains sluggish and the immediate prospects don't look particularly bright," said
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