The historic collapse in British manufacturing caused by the coronavirus lockdown abated in June as companies reported a small increase in output, a survey showed on Wednesday.
The IHS Markit/CIPS UK manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) rose to 50.1 from 40.7 in May, unrevised from a preliminary reading and creeping back above the 50 line that signifies growth for the first time since February.
"Output edged higher and domestic demand firmed as lockdown restrictions loosened, factories restarted and staff returned to work," said Rob Dobson, director at IHS Markit, which compiles the survey.
"The planned loosening in Covid-19 restrictions on July 4 should aid further gains in coming months."
The survey is designed only to show the magnitude of monthly changes in output across businesses. The return to a reading above 50 does not signify a recovery to normal levels of manufacturing output.
In June, the Bank of England said Britain's economy looked on course to have shrunk by around 20 percent in the first six months of 2020 — a smaller decline than it had first feared, but still one of the biggest annual drops in 300 years.
Manufacturers are nevertheless looking forward to better days.
Optimism hit a 21-month high in June, Dobson said.