In the three months to April, an increase in output volumes was seen by 22 per cent of firms. A downturn was reported by 17 per cent, giving a rounded balance of four per cent. It marks the slowest output growth since January 2013.
Similarly slow growth was seen in employment where 23 per cent of manufacturers said headcount was up, compared to 18 per cent who said it had declined. The balance of five per cent is the lowest since January 2013.
“It’s encouraging that our manufacturers are seeing – and expect to see – continued growth, with rates of expansion still above average,” said CBI deputy director-general Katja Hall.
The figure does not bode well for the first official estimate of UK economic growth for the first three months of the year that will be published this morning. A slowdown from the 0.6 per cent growth seen in the final three months of 2014 could dent the Conservatives election chances.
“The outlook for manufacturers seems pretty healthy on the domestic demand front,” said economist Howard Archer from analysts IHS.
“Elevated consumer confidence, markedly improved consumer purchasing power and rising employment should underpin demand.”