Optimism has returned to most of England’s key manufacturing regions, according to the Confederation of British Industry’s latest Regional Trends survey.
Manufacturers in the north east, Yorkshire, the West Midlands and East Midlands all reported improving business confidence compared to the April survey.
But the partial rise in optimism follows a grim spring. Manufacturers in every part of the UK, except Northern Ireland, had job losses. Output fell in all regions except Northern Ireland and the north west. And 58% were operating below capacity in July – the highest level was 69% in Yorkshire and the lowest 48% in Scotland.
But one industry with a rosy future is aerospace, according to market research firm MBD. It predicts UK aerospace production will increase 21% to a value of £17.3bn by 2003.
Meanwhile, manufacturers’ input prices leapt 3.3% in July, the fastest monthly increase for almost 20 years. This was largely caused by a sharp rise in crude oil prices, which rose 21.8%.
Industry appears to be absorbing the input price rise. Factory gate prices – the producer price index – increased by just 0.2%. When petrol, food and tobacco are excluded, the index fell by 0.1%.