The first quarterly EEF Manufacturing Outlook survey this year shows signs that the sector’s slide into negative territory may be coming to an end, with improvements reported in output and orders.
Output has edged up after hitting its weakest point in six years in the final quarter of 2015. It is still in negative territory but this may not be for long, with companies predicting positive output growth next quarter (Q2).
Total orders have remained negative in Q1, but are similarly up from a six-year low, suggesting that they may have started to stabilise. UK orders were at -13% and export orders at -10%, signalling that demand from the domestic market and abroad is not as weak as before.
Ms Lee Hopley, chief economist at EEF, comments: “After the gloomy end to 2015, this latest data shows a chink of light. But, we should not be getting the deckchairs out yet. The slide is bottoming out, but manufacturing is still in negative territory and faces a precarious climb back up amidst a storm of real uncertainty.”