Manufacturers' disappointing start to the year continued this month, according to survey figures released this morning.
The Confederation of British Industry's (CBI) headline total orders balance drooped to a score of minus 17 in February from minus 15 in January. The long run average of the total orders balance is minus 15. However, the survey of 497 manufacturers showed export orders picking up slightly.
Total output edged up slightly over the last three months, but factories were more pessimistic about the next three months than they were in January.
Average selling prices are also expected to fall slightly over the coming months with the metals, food and drink, chemicals and mechanical engineering sectors all expecting a drop in prices.
“Demand and output have remained relatively unchanged from January’s performance. The challenging outlook for the manufacturing sector has stabilised a little, with sterling having depreciated, but Britain’s manufacturers are still facing a difficult global situation," said CBI director of Economics Rain Newton-Smith.
“Next month’s Budget gives the government a good opportunity to give a helping hand to the manufacturing sector, by tackling the UK’s outdated business rates regime, and supporting investment through increasing the scope of capital allowances."
Manufacturing output is still below pre-recession levels, with output in 2015 declining 0.2 per cent from 2014 levels, according to the Office for National Statistics.