Boost for UK manufacturers as February sees pick up in orders

Ben Southwood
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BRITISH factory orders improved more than expected this month, according to data released yesterday.

The total order book balance in the Confederation of British Industry’s (CBI) survey rose this month to minus 14 from minus 20 in January, beating expectations of a reading of minus 15 and well above the long-term average of minus 17. The CBI’s index for export orders also rose sharply, from minus 29 to minus 20.

“The rebound in manufacturing orders and expectations for output growth provide some further signs of improvement in the outlook for the UK economy,” said Anna Leach, the CBI’s head of economic analysis. However, Leach warned export orders were likely to remain weak until conditions in the Eurozone economy improved.

But consumer spending power came under a further squeeze in January, separate data showed this morning. Consumers had 1.4 per cent less to spend on non-essential items in real terms in the first month of 2013, approximately £13 less per month, Lloyds said. This was due to rapid inflation outpacing slow wage growth.