CBI: manufacturing picks up pace

Manufacturing order books improved in April, and output growth accelerated in the three months to May, according to the CBI’s latest Industrial Trends Survey.

The survey of 432 manufacturers reported that total order books were the highest since February 2015, broadly matching the strong levels seen earlier this year. Export orders also stayed robust, equalling the level seen in March (itself, the highest level seen since December 2013).

Output growth picked up pace, seeing the fastest rise since December 2013. This was underpinned by the mechanical engineering and chemicals sectors. Firms expect another firm rise in production over the coming quarter.

But pricing pressures remain strong, with manufacturers continuing to expect a sharp rise in average selling prices. Nonetheless, expectations have eased slightly on their peak back in February. Stock adequacy improved marginally, but remains below average.

Rain Newton-Smith, CBI chief economist, said: “The summer sun has come out early for Britain’s manufacturers. Robust demand at both home and abroad is reflected in strong order books, and output is picking up the pace.

“On the other side of the coin though, we have mounting cost pressures and expectations for factory-gate price rises are running high.