- Small and medium-sized manufacturers saw orders and output continue to fall in the three months to April, though firms are expecting both to grow in the next quarter.
- Output also fell for the fourth consecutive quarter. However, manufacturers expect output to grow slightly over the next three months.
- Optimism about the overall business situation has steadied, following three quarters of decline. Meanwhile, optimism about export prospects rose for the first time in a year.
- Manufacturers expect a modest increase in headcount in the coming quarter.
- Growth in average unit costs was the fastest since October 2011, squeezing manufacturers’ profit margins once again.
- No sign of an improvement in credit conditions
- The Optimism Index increased by 1.7 points this month following its 21-year low reading in January. The Index increased to 90.6 in February from a reading of 88.9 in January – the biggest increase in the index for five months.
- Despite this increase, businesses still do not anticipate growth in the next two quarters
- The Inflation Index increased from 100.4 in January to 101.5 in February, its highest level since September 2012.
- The Output Index saw a decrease from 92.3 last month to 92.1 this month
At last, something has happened that the EBS can report (other than this stayed the same and there was no difference with that):
- The proportion of businesses in England (45%) reporting output being higher than it was three months earlier was the highest reported since the survey began (October 2011).
- London outperformed the other regions of the UK on measures of output and employment and is the most optimistic region, with the largest positive balance scores for expectations of future output and employment.
- The North West was the worst performing region with the lowest balance scores for both output and employment.
- Businesses in the West Midlands have the most pessimistic expectations of output and those in Yorkshire and the Humber are most pessimistic about employment.
- The UK economy grew by 0.9 per cent in the third quarter of 2012, following three consecutive quarters of negative growth.
- Despite being revised down by 0.1 percentage points from the previous estimate, the latest quarterly growth rate remains the strongest since the third quarter of 2007.
- Unusual factors in the second and third quarters are thought to have been partly responsible for this. In the second quarter, the poor weather and the loss of a working day due to the Diamond Jubilee may have reduced output. In contrast, hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games in the third quarter may have supported output.
As usual with these monthly releases from the English Business Survey, not much has happened. I guess we should be keeping track and watching out for trends – but I think I’ll wait for the annual summary.
And here is the link for Q3. – not much movement there either.