Industry takes a step out of the gloom
Wednesday 05 May 1999
In April, for the sixth month running, activity in manufacturing climbed closer to the line between contraction and expansion, according to the purchasing managers' survey. Output increased, and new orders were almost flat. "The pain of manufacturers appears to be easing," said Peter Thomson, director general of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply. But he added that companies were cautious, and the survey showed a further sharp fall in employment levels in industry.
The TUC warned that interest rates must fall to help bring the pound down and save hundreds of thousands of jobs.
As if to add weight to this warning, the pound reached a new high against the euro yesterday. The new currency fell to 65.3 pence, nearly 10 per cent lower than its January peak. The pound's index against a basket of currencies has climbed nearly 5 per cent since the New Year.
Despite the high exchange rate, City hopes of an interest rate cut have ebbed following a series of upbeat figures. Many economists have raised their forecasts for growth this year closer to the Chancellor's 1-1.5 per cent target. Steven Bell, chief UK economist at Deutsche Bank, is one of these. "We have not seen the expected rise in unemployment afte r a year of weak growth, so consumer spending has turned around," he said.
Separate figures yesterday showed a surge in consumer credit in March. Sales of T-registration cars are thought to have boosted the total to pounds 1.25bn from pounds 1bn the previous month.
The housing market is also showing signs of vigour. The average loan passed the pounds 100,000 mark for the first time in March, while total mortgage lending of pounds 3.1bn was the highest since the figures start in April 1993.
The Halifax reported a 0.2 per cent rise in house prices in April. This was lower than March's 1.2 per cent jump, but Britain's biggest mortgage lender said it confirmed the recovery in the housing market.
Some analysts thought the MPC might even so reduce borrowing costs again. Ken Wattret at Paribas said: "The exchange rate is a potential threat to recovery. A rate cut is ... possible."
The MPC cut rates by a quarter point to 5.25 per cent on 8 April.
Harry Potter actor suffered 'severe flu-like symptoms' on a flight from London to Orlando
First full-length look is finally here
World cities ranked in terms of safety, food security and 'liveability'
- 1 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 2 The awkward moment Sarah Palin raised $25,000 for Hillary Clinton's election campaign
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 Baldness could soon be treated using stem cells, scientists hope
Woman falls to her death as she celebrates marriage proposal at the edge of Ibiza cliff
Sex abuse inquiry: 'Victims receive death threats' after MPs release names online
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Teenager brandishing fake gun taken down by police after demanding airtime on Netherlands' NOS TV station
The awkward moment Sarah Palin raised $25,000 for Hillary Clinton's election campaign
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
iJobs Money & Business
£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...
£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...
£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Technical Report Writer is re...