October data also pointed to an increase in new export sales for the first time in four months. Stronger demand encouraged a marginal rebound in input buying, but inventory volumes were depleted again.
Meanwhile, factory gate charges decreased for the first time since September 2016. Manufacturers commented on softer cost pressures and efforts to stimulate sales by price discounting.
Business confidence in the manufacturing sector picked up for the second month running and was the highest since June. A number of firms cited stronger order books and hopes of a recovery in global trade conditions. Comments from manufacturers in the automotive sector were the main exception, with respondents often noting concerns about the demand outlook in domestic and export markets