The CBI's latest Trends survey suggests that UK manufacturing has had an indifferent May so far.
The overall orders balance weighed in at a disappointingly low minus 5 percent, a drop of 6 percentage points versus its April reading but still well above its minus 15 percent long run average. Somewhat surprisingly, within this, exports actually improved with a minus 7 percent posting, up 4 percentage points from last time and the highest level since August 2014. Recent output (9 percent) saw a modest recovery from April's twenty-two month low (4 percent) and was similarly stronger than its historic norm (3 percent). Expected output over the next three months (15 percent) was little changed from last time (16 percent).
Average prices over the coming three months (2 percent) are seen as broadly flat after an anticipated drop last time and a net 5 percent of firms said stocks of finished goods were above adequate.
After allowing for the usual monthly volatility, the survey's May findings indicate no significant change in manufacturing trends. Activity in the sector has clearly slowed in recent months but growth remains positive and May's sector PMI looks unlikely to be very different from April's 51.9.
CBI conducts a monthly survey of senior manufacturing executives on trends in output, prices, exports, and costs. The CBI's quarterly Industrial Trends Survey collects data on topics like current business confidence, capacity utilization and investment intentions.
Started in 1958, this is the UK's longest-running private sector qualitative business tendency survey. The survey is used by policy makers along with those in the business community, academics and top analysts in financial markets. One of its key strengths is that it is released within ten days and prior to official statistics and includes data not covered by official sources. It is never revised. The data are also used by the European Commission's harmonized business survey of EU countries.
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