Expectations for manufacturing output growth in the next three months are strong, despite an easing of pace over the past quarter, according to the latest CBI Industrial Trends Survey.
And export order books have recovered after a dip last month, though they still lag behind total orders, the CBI said.
The survey of 414 manufacturers also found that total order books strengthened in August, returning to the robust level seen in June and becoming more broad-based across sectors.
While nine sectors surveyed reported that the pace of growth had slowed in the past three months, sixteen sectors anticipate growth over the coming quarter.
Stock adequacy was at its highest for a year, possibly driven by the expectation that output will rise more strongly over the next quarter. However, output prices are expected to be flat in the next three months.
Key findings of the survey showed that:
- 37% of firms said the volume of output over the past three months was up and 25% said it was down, giving a balance of +12%, from +23% in July;
- Firms expect output to grow strongly in the coming quarter, with 42% predicting growth, and 11% a decline, giving an overall balance of +31%;
- 29% of firms reported that total order books were above normal and 18% said they were below normal, giving a balance of +11%;
- 19% of firms said their export order books were above normal and 22% said they were below normal, giving a balance of -3%, against a long-run average of -20%.
Katja Hall, CBI deputy director-general, said: “The outlook for UK manufacturers remains healthy, with both total and export orders firming up. Despite a dip in the pace of output growth, companies expect a strong pick-up in the next three months.”
However, challenges remain, said Hall. “With growth flat at best in the Eurozone and Sterling having risen in recent months, there are still some headwinds to export demand,” she said. “We need more manufacturers exporting to high-growth markets, which will help to put the recovery onto a more balanced, sustainable footing.”