Business

UK manufacturers see orders weaken, CBI says

Biscuit factory
Image caption Orders weakened in April, but the trend over the whole quarter was positive

Order levels at UK manufacturers weakened in April, according to the latest survey from the CBI.

The business group's latest industrial trends survey found 21% of firms had order books above normal in April, but 31% said that they were below.

This contrasts with a positive balance recorded in the month before.

However, the CBI said that data for the past three months showed rising output, indicating that the manufacturing recovery was "firmly on track".

Of 451 firms that responded to its survey, 36% said output had risen in the past three months, while 15% said it had fallen.

The CBI also found that inflationary pressures were continuing to build as companies sought to pass on soaring raw material costs.

The CBI's head of economic analysis, Lai Wah Co, said: "Perceptions of order book levels have dipped in the monthly data, but the readings are still above the long-run average.

"The quarterly questions show that manufacturing orders have risen strongly over the past three months and output growth remains robust."

The business group's survey comes just one day before the first official figures on gross domestic product are released for the first quarter of the year.

The Office for National Statistics recorded a 0.5% fall in output in the three months to the end of 2010, but economists are expecting an increase of about 0.5% for the first three months of 2011.

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