Manufacturers are more optimistic as orders rise

Small and medium-sized manufacturers are striking a much more optimistic note than the rest of the economy, with the Confederation of British Industry revealing today that the sector saw orders grow in April at the fastest rate for 16 years.

The CBI said orders were rising quickly from both domestic and overseas customers, and that output continued to rise solidly as a result. It also revealed that companies were increasingly optimistic about the months ahead. However, cost pressures have become even more intense, with the rising price of raw materials presenting a serious problem for many.

Overall, orders in April rose the most since April 1995. Some 39 per cent of companies surveyed by the CBI said their domestic orders rose last month, while 23 per cent saw a fall, a positive balance of 16 per cent. For export orders, the corresponding numbers were 37 per cent and 14 per cent, a positive balance of 23 per cent.

The improvement will be welcomed by ministers anxious to see a rebalancing of Britain's economy towards manufacturing and industry, as will the evidence that the increases in orders are prompting a growing number of companies to take on new staff. A balance of 18 per cent of companies said production rose last month, while a balance of 16 per cent made additional hirings, the highest figure since April 1995.

However, the global boom in commodity prices is now being felt acutely by small British manufacturers. A positive balance of 53 per cent of companies said costs rose last month.

Domestic prices rose at the fastest rate since April 1995, while export prices rose more quickly than at any time since the CBI began its monthly surveys of the sector in 1988.

Lucy Armstrong, chairwoman of the CBI's small and medium enterprise council, said the survey presented a mixed picture. "Smaller manufacturers are enjoying strong demand for goods at home and abroad, underpinning robust growth in production, while headcount has increased for the third consecutive quarter as firms try to keep up with demand, and output is expected to rise again in the coming months," Ms Armstrong said.

"However, inflationary pressures remain a dark cloud, with rising oil and commodity prices pushing up the cost of production and eating into profit margins."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Swiss Banking and Finance

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Can you speak German,...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - 6 month FTC - Central London

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity f...

Ashdown Group: Junior Project Manager (website, web application) - Agile

£215 per day: Ashdown Group: Junior Project Manager (website, web application ...

Guru Careers: Software Engineer / Software Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software Engineer / Softw...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before