Scottish manufacturers report sharp drop in new orders

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Scottish manufacturing output fell in December for the seventh month in a row

Scottish manufacturing firms last month suffered their sharpest drop in new orders since 2009, a survey has found. The latest findings from the RBS Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) were accompanied by reports of weak demand and continued uncertainty.The PMI also showed overall business activity stagnated in December.Scottish manufacturing output fell for the seventh month in a row, while activity in the much larger services sector slowed.Firms said they remained confident output would rise over the coming year, with sentiment reaching a six-month high. That said, expectations remained subdued in the context of historical data.Meanwhile, private sector firms in Scotland reported no change in workforce numbers during the latest survey period. Sector data highlighted divergence, as manufacturers recorded a sixth consecutive reduction in employment, while services firms registered a slight increase in staffing levels.Overall, firms continued to face the challenge of absorbing rising input prices, with the survey suggesting that weak confidence was making it difficult to pass the increases on to customers.

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