UK factory orders improve in December but outlook cloudy: CBI
LONDON – British factory orders hit a three-month high this month, helped by an improvement in exports, although manufacturers still expect output to edge down over the next three months, an industry survey showed.
The Confederation of British Industry’s order book balance for manufacturers rose to -7 in December from -11 in November and stronger than a median forecast of -10 in a Reuters poll of economists.
While Britain’s economy has grown faster than those of most other rich countries over the past two years, manufacturing has failed to contribute to the recovery in the first three quarters of 2015, with growth driven by the much larger services sector.
Output expectations for the next three months were negative for a second straight month, despite the export orders balance rising to the highest level since August at -18.
“Manufacturers are still having a tough time of it with output slipping and exports remaining a weak spot in spite of an improvement at the end of the year,” Rain Newton-Smith, director of economics at the CBI, said.
“But there is a pick-up in orders from previous months which could be a sign of light at the end of the tunnel.” -Reuters