Sterling’s continued strength has pushed export demand for manufactured goods to its lowest since November 1993, according to CBI figures. Monthly trends in March show 35% of manufacturing firms with export orders below normal, and 17% above. This negative balance of 18% is down significantly on February’s 12% and January’s 8%.
In contrast, healthy home orders are holding up total order books.
The CBI forecasts output increases over the next four months – the positive balance of 25% of firms expecting output to increase is the highest figure since May 1995.
In its quarterly industrial trends, the West Midlands EEF supports the CBI on orders. It reports a positive trend on capital investment, with 27% of companies expecting to invest more over the next three months.
Official figures show the rise in unit wages in manufacturing slowing at the start of the year, up 3.1%. There was a corresponding speed-up in productivity improvements, up 1.4%.
Figures from the Centre for Economic Performance show poor progress by young people with low qualifications. Most 19-21 year-olds below NVQ level 2 fail to improve their qualifications as they get older.