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Factory orders weaker than expected in May

BRITISH manufacturing orders fell slightly more than expected in May but firms were more upbeat about the future than at any time since last September, a survey showed yesterday.<br /><br />The Confederation of British Industry&rsquo;s (CBI) monthly Industrial Trends survey showed the factory orders balance ticked up to -56 this month from -57 in April. Analysts had expected a bigger improvement to -50.<br /><br />The balance measuring manufacturers&rsquo; expectations for output over the coming months rose to -17 from -32, its highest level since September 2008.<br /><br />&ldquo;After scaling back production very sharply at the beginning of the year, manufacturers can see a glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel,&rdquo; said Ian McCafferty, chief economic adviser to the CBI. &ldquo;They still expect manufacturing activity to fall, but at a much slower rate,&rdquo; he added.