Outlook remains healthy for UK manufacturers – CBI survey

Expectations for manufacturing output growth in the next three months are strong, despite an easing of pace over the past quarter, the latest CBI Industrial Trends Survey shows.

While nine sectors surveyed reported that the pace of growth had slowed in the past three months, sixteen sectors anticipate growth over the coming quarter.

The survey of 414 manufacturers also found that total order books strengthened in August, returning to the robust level seen in June and becoming more broad-based across sectors.

Export order books also recovered after a dip last month, though they still lag behind total orders.

Stock adequacy was at its highest for a year, possibly driven by the expectation that output will rise more strongly over the next quarter.

In the three months ahead, output prices are expected to be flat.

Katja Hall, CBI deputy director-general, said:

“The outlook for UK manufacturers remains healthy, with both total and export orders firming up.

“Despite a dip in the pace of output growth, companies expect a strong pick-up in the next three months.

“But with growth flat at best in the Eurozone and Sterling having risen in recent months, there are still some headwinds to export demand.

“We need more manufacturers exporting to high-growth markets, which will help to put the recovery onto a more balanced, sustainable footing.”

Key findings

·         37 per cent of firms said the volume of output over the last three months was up and 25 per cent said it was down, giving a balance of +12 per cent, from +23 per cent in July

·         Firms expect output to grow strongly in the coming quarter, with 42 per cent predicting growth, and 11 per cent a decline, giving an overall balance of +31 per cent

·         29 per cent of firms reported that total order books were above normal and 18 per cent said they were below normal, giving a balance of +11 per cent

·         19 per cent of firms said their export order books were above normal and 22 per cent said they were below normal, giving a balance of -3 per cent, against a long-run average of -20 per cent

·         Output price inflation expectations remained subdued (-1 per cent), moderating only very slightly compared to July (-4 per cent per cent)

·         20 per cent of firms said their present stocks of finished goods were more than adequate, and 5 per cent reported they were less than adequate, giving a balance of +15 per cent.

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