UK manufacturers stung by the recent rally in sterling

MANUFACTURING firms experienced another challenging month in May as overseas demand for UK-made goods weakened on the back of a stronger pound, according to yesterday&rsquo;s Confederation of British Industry (CBI) monthly industrial trends survey <br /><br />The CBI said that six per cent of firms described their export order books as above normal, while 58 per cent said they were below normal. The balance of -52 per cent is the lowest since October 1998, but there has been a modest improvement in total order book levels.<br /><br />Ian McCafferty, the CBI&rsquo;s chief economic adviser, said: &ldquo;Export orders are no better than they were a few months ago, reflecting the continued weakness of overseas demand for UK-made goods. As such, conditions for UK manufacturers remain challenging with volumes of total orders still at very weak levels.&rdquo;<br /><br />Howard Archer at IHS Global Insight said: &ldquo;Difficult conditions in overseas markets are still outweighing the boost to UK manufacturers coming from the marked overall weakening of the pound. Furthermore, it looks like export orders could well have been hit in June by the recent rally of the pound.&rdquo;