Manufacturing order books remained robust and output growth accelerated in February, according to the latest CBI Industrial Trends Survey.
The survey of 380 manufacturers found that total order books improved slightly on January, although they remained below levels recorded in November and December.
Overall export orders also rebounded after a drop in January. The motor vehicles sector was the biggest contributor to the improvement in export orders, recording its strongest performance since October 2011.
Output grew at one of the strongest rates since survey records began in 1975.
Optimism about output prospects also improved, with expectations for output growth over the coming three months at their strongest since September – 16 out of 17 sectors expect output to expand over the next three months.
- 26 per cent of firms reported that total order books were above normal in February and 23 per cent said they were below giving a balance of +3 per cent, an increase from January (-2 per cent) and well above the long-run average (-17 per cent), although below the levels in December (+12 per cent)
- 18 per cent said their export order books were above normal and 19 per cent said they were below normal giving a balance of -1 per cent, well above the long-run average (-20 per cent)
- 41 per cent of firms said the volume of output was up and 17 per cent firms said it was down, giving a balance of +24 per cent, an increase from +18 per cent in January’s survey
- Firms expect output to continue to grow with 37 per cent expecting output to increase over the next three months and 8 per cent expecting orders to decrease, giving a rounded balance of +28 per cent
- Output price expectations remained elevated (+17 per cent) although marginally below January’s figure (+20 per cent). 22 per cent stated average prices at which domestic orders are booked were up and 5 per cent said they were down
- Stock adequacy of finished goods (+10 per cent) remained a little below average (+14 per cent).