BUSINESS output in Scotland’s private sector has stagnated in September, an industry index suggests.

The latest Royal Bank of Scotland Purchasing Managers’ Index found business activity was unchanged in September, following three months of growth.

A downturn in manufacturing cancelled out growth in the service sector, the report said.

The seasonally adjusted headline Royal Bank of Scotland Business Activity Index – which is a measure of combined manufacturing and service sector output – dropped from 50.3 in August to 50.0 in September.

Analysis suggests the decrease signals a stagnation of private sector business activity.

Firms across the private sector continued to cut staff numbers last month, marking the third consecutive month of falling employment.

The rate of job losses was the fastest in more than three years, with the report stating respondents linked the latest decline to “uncertainty and shortages of candidates”.

Responses indicated that the quickest fall in new orders since March.

The report states: “Anecdotal evidence linked falls in new business and activity to continued economic and political uncertainty.

“Despite improving from August, business confidence in September was the second-lowest since July 2016 – the month following the EU referendum.”