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Factory orders hit two-year high despite slowdown fears

19 May 2017

The stronger than expected findings from a survey by the CBI, the United Kingdom business trade body, suggest manufacturers had a decent start to the second quarter, boosting hopes that the sector will help prop up the wider economy as a consumer slowdown takes hold.

United Kingdom factories have cashed in on the sharp fall in the pound since the Brexit vote, with export orders at the joint highest level in three and a half years.

Output growth saw its fastest rise since December 2013.

Export volumes continued their recent strong performance with the joint-highest growth since December 2013, as the effects of a weak pound continue to make British products more attractive to overseas buyers.

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"On the other side of the coin though, we have mounting cost pressures and expectations for factory-gate price rises are running high".

Meanwhile manufacturers remained confident in production over the next quarter, with only 10 per cent expecting output to fall against 37 per cent looking forward to an increase.

The survey of 432 manufacturers reported that total order books were the highest since February 2015, broadly matching the strong levels seen earlier this year.

However, fuelling concerns about the squeeze on British consumers from rising inflation, a balance of nearly a quarter of the 432 manufacturers surveyed expected a sharp rise in average selling prices due to strong pricing pressures from inputs. "Sustained investment in innovation and education will be vital to shore up the success of British industry".

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Samuel Tombs at Pantheon Macroeconomics said the survey showed manufacturers are benefiting from the revival in world trade and sterling's depreciation.

Sterling's slump since the Brexit vote has benefited United Kingdom manufacturers by making their goods cheaper for overseas buyers.

Manufacturing is heading for a sweet spot ahead of summer, a CBI survey shows.

"What's more, the risk that the United Kingdom leaves the European Union without a deep trade deal in place is casting a cloud over the outlook for manufacturing".

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Factory orders hit two-year high despite slowdown fears