SME manufacturing output held flat in the three months to April but is expected to improve markedly in the coming quarter, according to the CBI’s quarterly SME Trends Survey.
The survey of 260 SME manufacturing firms saw optimism grow considerably, at the fastest pace in seven years. Sentiment regarding export prospects continued to fall, although at a much slower pace than that seen over the past year.
The volume of total new orders grew, reflecting a rise in domestic orders, while export orders were flat. Employment numbers also ticked up in the three months to April, for the first time in two years.
Next quarter, output and domestic orders are expected to bounce back, with predictions for output growth at the strongest in the survey’s history (since 1988). However, export orders are set to decline.
UK manufacturing activity grew at its fastest rate since 1994 the newly released IHS Markit/CIPS Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for April 2021 shows.
The seasonally adjusted PMI rose to 60.9 in April, up from 58.9 in March and above the earlier flash estimate of 60.7. The latest reading is the highest since July 1994’s record high (61.0).
New orders are up to their highest level since November 2013 and two thirds of businesses surveyed for the PMI’s believe production will be higher still in a years’ time. New export business rose at the quickest pace in the year-so-far, amid reports of improved demand from Europe, Asia and the US.