Nobody really expected 2012 to end with good news for manufacturing but, according to the Markit-CIPS purchasing managers' index, it did. Manufacturing expanded at its fastest rate for 15 months in December, which was welcome after a difficult few months.
This is Markit's summary: "The UK manufacturing sector ended 2012 on a positive note, with levels of production and new orders rising at faster rates in December. The labour market also showed signs of stabilising, with employment broadly unchanged over the month.
"The seasonally adjusted Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managerís Index (PMI) rose back above the 50.0 no-change level in December, recording a 15-month high of 51.4. The average PMI reading in Q4 (49.5) was above that in Q3 (48.1), while the average over 2012 as a whole was only 49.2.
"Manufacturing output increased for the second month running, with the rate of growth accelerating sharply to a 20-month high. The sharpest gains were reported by consumer and intermediate goods producers."