British manufacturers ended the year with some Christmas cheer, with order books remaining at their highest point in almost 30 years, according to a widely followed survey.
The survey of industry by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) showed total order books growing at the same rate in the quarter to December as found last month. The 17 per cent balance of firms reporting increased growth remained at the highest point since August 1988.
Strong orders for vehicle and transport manufacturers and the mechanical engineering sectors contributed to the overall performance, the CBI said.
Some 42 per cent of businesses said the volume of output over the past quarter was up, contributing to a balance reporting growth far above long-run averages.
The strength was driven in part by export order strength, which saw the balance of firms selling abroad reporting increased orders continuing to show a rich vein of form, with a 16 per cent balance in spite of a dip during the month.
Some exporters have been boosted in the past year by the fall in the value of sterling, which has made their products relatively less expensive, although firms with extensive foreign supply chains have been unable to share in the benefits as their input costs have risen.
Anna Leach, CBI head of economic intelligence, said: “As we head towards the end of 2017, UK manufacturers’ total order books remain at a near-30-year high, with export order books remaining at their strongest since the mid-1990s.”