Exports behind manufacturers’ hopes

UK manufacturing is expected to pick up slightly over the next three months, according to the latest monthly Industrial Trends Survey from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

In the study of 548 manufacturers, 25 per cent said that they expect output to rise in the next three months, while 18 per cent anticipate a fall.

The resulting balance of +7 per cent is the strongest figure since March 2008 and compares to a balance of +4 per cent in January.

The poll also showed that exports order books are continuing to improve as a result of the weakness of Sterling and improving global demand.

Around 14 per cent of firms said exports were above normal and 38 per cent said they were below normal, resulting in a rounded balance of -23 per cent in line with the survey average.

However, total order books were more depressed, with only 10 per cent of manufacturers claiming that they were above normal, while almost half said they were below normal.

The resulting balance of -36 per cent is the least negative since December 2008 and a modest improvement on the previous month’s balance of -39 per cent.

Ian McCafferty, CBI chief economic adviser, said: ‘Manufacturing production is slowly recovering as demand for UK-made goods overseas is improving, boosted by the relative weakness of Sterling.

‘Stock levels are now much closer to requirements, suggesting the period of aggressive destocking is now over.

‘However, while exports are providing some welcome support, overall demand remains feeble.

‘Given the continued weakness of total orders, growth prospects are likely to remain subdued.’

Overall stock levels remain stable in relation to demand, however the balance of +12 per cent is slightly below the survey average.

For the second consecutive month, a balance of +8 per cent of manufacturers said that they expected prices to rise modestly over the coming quarter.