Manufacturing recovery in UK continues to strengthen

Paul Boughton

Growth in the UK’s manufacturing sector is continuing to pick up, with orders at their highest level since the start of the financial crisis. That’s according to the latest Confederation of British Industry (CBI) monthly Industrial Trends Survey.

The survey of nearly 400 manufacturers found that total orders rose for the fifth consecutive month, while exports orders also grew strongly. Meanwhile, output growth for the three months to September rose to its highest rate since August 2011. Output is expected to rise strongly again over the next three months.

With demand building across the UK and globally, stocks have fallen to their lowest level since last November. But inflationary pressures remain muted, with average prices expected to remain relatively steady over the next three months.

Key findings:

* 28 per cent of firms reported that total order books were above normal in September and 19 per cent said they were below, giving a balance of 9 per cent, the highest figure since August 2007 (+9 per cent)

* 23 per cent reported that export order books were above normal in September and 18 per cent that they were below. The resulting of balance of +6 per cent is the strongest since February 2011 (+11 per cent)

* The volume of output in the three months to September rose at its fastest rate since August 2011 (+19 per cent). 39 per cent of firms said it rose, 21 per cent said it fell, giving a balance of +18 per cent, which was stronger than expected (+10 per cent)

* Firms expect to increase output at an even faster pace in the next three months: 44 per cent expect to raise output, 11% expect to reduce output, giving a balance of +33 per cent, the strongest expectation since March 1995 (+34 per cent)

* Stock levels of finished goods dropped to their lowest level in September (+5 per cent) since November 2012 (+5 per cent), while average prices in the next three months are expected to remain stable (+3 per cent).

Stephen Gifford, CBI Director of Economics, said: “This month’s results show the manufacturing recovery continuing to gather pace.

“Order books are the fullest they’ve been since the start of the financial crisis, and firms are ramping up production to meet demand.

“Firms are more upbeat about growth prospects in the coming quarter than at any time since 1995.”

The September 2013 CBI Industrial Trends Survey was conducted between 21 August and 11 September. 398 manufacturing firms replied.