The CBI's March Trends Survey was surprisingly upbeat and suggests that UK manufacturing ended this quarter on a very solid footing.
The key orders balance was unchanged at 8 percent and so equalled its best reading in two years. Within this, there was a long overdue bounce in exports which, at 10 percent, were up fully 20 percentage points from last time and at their highest level since December 2013. However, it is probably worth noting that around half of the gain here was due to pharmaceuticals which have been particularly volatile of late. Nonetheless, past output weighed in at 23 percent, up from 16 percent, and expectations (36 percent after 33 percent) were even stronger. Prices (29 percent after 32 percent) were still seen climbing sharply over the next three months but not quite as quickly as in mid-quarter.
In sum, the results are notably bullish and should point to another healthy March manufacturing PMI survey.
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) produces a monthly survey (and a more detailed quarterly report) analysing the performance of UK manufacturing industry. This is the UK's longest running qualitative business tendency survey. Questions relate to domestic and export orders, stocks, price and output expectations with the main market focus being the domestic orders balance. The survey is seen as a loose leading indicator of the official industrial production data.
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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