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27 March 2014 | Gurjit Degun
The UK manufacturing industry saw continued robust activity in March, as overall demand rose and total orders improved.
That’s according to the latest CBI Industrial Trends Survey, which added that output growth over the three months to March remained above average despite falling to a five-month low.
The largest contributor to the decline was the food and drink sector, where, unexpectedly, output fell for the first time in 16 months. “However, orders in the sector remain strong and firm output growth is anticipated in the coming three months,” said the CBI.
The survey of 368 manufacturers found total order books improved with above-average results in 14 out of 17 sectors. Export orders dropped but remained above average in 11 out of 17 sectors.
Anna Leach, CBI head of economic analysis, said: “Growth in exports is crucial to rebalancing the economy and ensuring a sustainable recovery. Over the last few surveys, manufacturing export orders have underperformed relative to overall orders as the UK’s domestic recovery has caught hold more quickly than some of our key trading partners – most particularly, the Eurozone.
“Measures announced in the Budget should help businesses to break into new, faster growing markets and underpin an improvement in the UK’s export performance.”