Smaller manufacturing firms suffer a surprise output fall

Marion Dakers
SMALLER manufacturers suffered a disappointing drop in orders and output in the three months to April, according to Confederation of British Industry (CBI) figures out today.

A balance of 14 per cent of British firms in the industry said total orders fell in the period, falling short of the net nine per cent that had expected to see growth three months ago.

Despite the worse-than-expected quarter, a net 12 per cent of small to medium sized manufacturers believe output will pick up in the next three months, and 21 per cent predict a rise in export orders.

“The recent weakening in sterling will have boosted the competitiveness of the UK’s smaller manufacturing firms, with a strong pick-up in export orders predicted,” said CBI director of economics Stephen Gifford.

“But conditions will remain challenging for the sector. Fears about the impact of political and economic conditions abroad on export demand have risen and there is little sign in this survey that credit conditions are improving.”

A purchasing managers’ index from Markit last week showed the wider UK manufacturing sector stabilising in April, though it remained in decline with a score of 49.8, just below the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction.