LONDON (AP) -- Manufacturing output in Britain hit a 17-year low in September, with employment, production and new orders all falling sharply, the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply said Wednesday.
The purchasing managers index was 41.0 -- on a scale on which 50 means no change, and a smaller number means a decline.
Howard Archer, the chief European economist at Global Insight, said the report was "simply awful."
Archer added that heightened financial sector turmoil and tighter credit conditions are significantly raising the danger of a prolonged and deep downturn.
The report said the index reflected sagging domestic demand as downturns in the credit, housing and construction markets led to orders being canceled or postponed.
"Conditions were also weak in foreign markets, as new export business fell at the fastest rate for seven years," said the report, prepared by Markit, a financial information company.
"The downturn was most severe in the consumer goods sector in September, where output and new orders both fell at series record rates," the report added.