LONDON British manufacturers reported stagnant output over the past quarter, the weakest reading since late 2009 when the country was recovering from its deepest recession in more than 50 years, a survey by the sector's lobby EEF showed on Monday.
Boding ill for the coming months, orders hardly grew, with the relevant balance of responses falling to the lowest level since early 2010.
Demand at home remained weak, while a protracted debt crisis in the euro zone led to the first fall in export orders since the end of 2009, EEF said.
"There is little positive news in these figures," said EEF chief executive Terry Scuoler.
"Many manufacturers are steeling themselves for a continuation of tough trading conditions in the next few quarters," he added.
EEF forecast that manufacturing output would contract by 1.2 percent this year and grow by 0.7 percent in 2013.
The figures added to signs that Britain's recovery from its latest recession - which it exited only in the third quarter - will be slow and arduous.
The PMI survey for manufacturing, due later on Monday, is expected to show another contraction in the sector in November.
EEF polled 391 companies between November 2 and November 23.
(Reporting by Li-mei Hoang; Editing by Toby Chopra)
Our top photos from the past week.