LONDON (AP) -- British manufacturing activity declined by the most in a decade in July, a leading industry survey reported on Friday, adding to fears that the country may be headed for a recession.
The Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply's index of manufacturing fell from 45.9 in June to 44.3 last month -- the lowest rate since December 1998.
Readings lower than 50 signal industry slowdown, and July's was worse than economists expected.
It is the third consecutive month of falling activity in manufacturing, which accounts for 15 percent of the British economy.
"The manufacturing sector clearly appears to be tumbling into recession," said Vicky Redwood, UK economist with Capital Economics.
The survey is only the latest of many signs pointing to recession.
On Thursday, Nationwide building society reported that UK house prices had fallen by more than 8 percent in the past 12 months, making it the fastest free-fall since the group launched their housing survey in 1991.
Consumer confidence in Britain also plummeted to a record low in July, according to the leading GfK NOP barometer published Thursday.
Worse still, the Bank of England probably won't be able to halt the recession by cutting interest rates because inflation is already progressing at the fastest pace in 11 years.