The latest CBI (Confederation of British Industry) Industrial Trends Survey has revealed that UK manufacturers have seen an improvement in total and export orders in December, but still expect their output to shrink mildly over the coming three months.
The survey of 473 manufacturers saw the strongest total orders for three months and exports performed better when compared with recent months, with 14 out of 18 sub-sectors improving.
Manufacturing output decreased a little with the expectation of a further small fall over the coming quarter. Average prices are expected to remain flat over the next quarter.
Rain Newton-Smith, CBI director of economics, commented: “Manufacturers are still having a tough time of it with output slipping and exports remaining a weak spot in spite of an improvement at the end of the year. But there is a pick-up in orders from previous months, which could be a sign of light at the end of the tunnel.
“The UK’s export performance has lagged for too long now and that’s why business wants to see an independent Exports Commission bringing together politicians and exporters to make some genuine progress on turning the situation around.”
Other key findings from the December survey included:
– 25% of firms said their total order books were below normal, 17% said they were above, giving a rounded balance of -7%, up 4% on November
– 31% said export orders were below normal, 13% said they were above, giving a balance of -18%, up 11% compared to November
– 19% expected output volumes to rise over the next three months, while 24% expect them to fall, giving a balance of 5%, slightly lower than November’s 6%
– 10% of respondents said that their stocks of finished goods were more than adequate to meet demand, up 6% on November.