Factories still feeling upbeat

THE OUTLOOK for Britain’s manufacturers is set to continue improving over the second quarter this year, according to EEF, an organisation representing the sector.

Twelve per cent more manufacturers who were surveyed reported growing rather than shrinking output in May, the strongest showing for a year, and a significant rise since April.

And manufacturers remain optimistic about the future of the industry, with 23 per cent more respondents expecting output to rise than to shrink.

Only one part of the sector, basic metals, recorded a decline in orders in May. The survey is made up of responses from 366 companies.

Despite struggling since the recession, Markit’s purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for manufacturing saw a significant boost in May.

Lee Hopley, chief economist at EEF said: “Positive manufacturing data has been somewhat easier to find in recent months and our latest survey provides further confidence that the sector’s prospects are improving.”

However, she added a note of caution, saying: “The weakness in export orders and the softening in investment intentions suggest that confidence may still need to be tempered for now.”

Investment balances fell to their weakest level since the third quarter of 2010, with the report suggesting that poor access to finance for manufacturers was taking its toll.

EEF said it expects an overall decline of 0.5 per cent for manufacturing this year, with the latter parts of 2013 expected to be the strongest.