Manufacturing sees orders on the increase

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Manufacturers across most of the UK have experienced rising orders in the past three months, helping to slow the pace of job losses.

Some 17,000 jobs are expected to get the axe over the current quarter, according to the latest quarterly regional trends survey from the Confederation of British Industry. This compares with 25,000 job losses in each quarter of 2003.

Doug Godden, the CBI's head of economic analysis, said: "It is welcome news that total orders and output have improved for manufacturers in the majority of UK regions in the last few months. Job losses have crippled the sector over the past year but some shedding will continue. Competitive pressures have intensified in overseas markets, with relative prices increasing as a constraint on exports nearly everywhere despite export price reductions in the majority of regions."

Order books are strengthening across the north of England, particularly in the North- east, Yorkshire and the North-west. Each region has reported substantial uptick in orders, according to the survey. It also shows that optimism in these regions, and in Wales, has improved by more than at any time in the past decade.