More evidence of a bleak outlook for manufacturing came last week with official figures showing that orders on hand for machine tools at the end of August 1998 were 14.5% lower than the same time a year ago.
During the three months to August, total turnover of the machine tools industry averaged £192m at current prices, a fall of 8.9% compared with a year ago. Home turnover has slumped dramatically, with an average level of £107.5m, down 23% on the same period last year.
But exports during the summer remained relatively healthy, moving up nearly 20% over the year to an average level of £84.3m. In the face of the high value of sterling during this period, the figures underline the industry’s efforts to cut margins and maintain market share.
Orders on hand at the end of August stood at £525.9m.
Seasonally adjusted figures for car production showed a rise in total output of 10.8% in the six months to the end of September, compared with a year ago.
Right-hand drive models for the UK market rose 12.4%, while exports jumped by 9.5%.
Commercial vehicle production for the same period edged down 0.3% compared with the same time last year.