New figures suggest UK output continued to grow in early 2013

Michael Bow
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BRITAIN revealed pockets of strong growth last quarter but the UK economy is still shuffling behind pre-recession levels in services and manufacturing, a key economic survey reveals today.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) quarterly economic survey, which polls 7,000 businesses, shows the first three months of the year recorded export balances for the services sector approaching all time highs, last recorded in 1994. Service orders rose eight points and deliveries nine points for the first quarter.

The net balance for manufacturing export deliveries also rose to its highest level since the second quarter of last year, and there were minor improvements on most metrics compared to last quarter. However, these were a rare chinks of light in an otherwise subdued picture.

Confidence levels stagnated below pre-2007 levels and the employment balance for both services and manufacturing fell in the first quarter, the survey said.

BCC chief economist David Kern said: “The first quarter improvement in most key balances supports our view that UK output has continued to grow in the early months of 2013. Fears of another recession are calmed by our results. The survey reinforces our assessment that recent Office for National Statistics GDP figures have exaggerated the weakness and the volatility in UK output.”