UK manufacturers are just as confident about rising output as their continental competitors, according to the European Commission’s monthly survey of manufacturing.
The gap between the percentage of companies expecting to raise output in the near future and those expecting it to fall stood at 15% for the UK in October. This compares to an average of 14% for the EU as a whole.
Germany was by far the most pessimistic of the large EU economies, with a balance of -1% expecting higher output and a balance of -12% confident about the future. France and Italy were more optimistic, both well ahead of the UK on output expectations and overall industrial confidence.
The survey also showed UK manufacturers were less optimistic about exports than euro-zone countries, with a balance of -29% expecting overseas sales to improve. This compared to -17% in the whole EU and a slightly positive balance in France.
The strength of sterling remains a big factor in UK manufacturers’ lack of confidence about exports. It could also explain the fact that companies here are far more likely to predict falling prices. A balance of -12% said prices would rise, compared to a positive balance of 2% in the EU as a whole.