- Manufacturing activity in the U.K. expanded at a slower rate than expected in January, dampening optimism over the country’s economic outlook, industry data showed on Monday.

In a report, market research group Markit said that its U.K. manufacturing PMI fell to a seasonally adjusted 56.7 last month from a reading of 57.2 in December. Analysts had expected the manufacturing PMI to ease down to 57.0 in January.

On the index, a reading above 50.0 indicates industry expansion, below indicates contraction.

Commenting on the report, Rob Dobson, senior economist at survey compiler Markit, said, “The ongoing improvement in the labor market in January adds further to the prospect of unemployment dropping below 7% imminently.”

Following the release of the data, the pound added to losses against the U.S. dollar, with GBP/USD dipping 0.34% to trade at 1.6379, compared to 1.6404 ahead of the data.

Meanwhile, European stock markets remained lower. The EURO STOXX 50 fell 0.85%, France’s CAC 40 dropped 0.5%, Germany''s DAX slumped 0.6%, while London’s FTSE 100 inched down 0.35%.

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