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UK manufacturers optimistic for growth

Optimism among small and medium-sized manufacturers grew at a record pace in the third quarter of this year, according to a survey by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

The CBI's latest SME Trends Survey found that demand grew significantly, with 42 per cent of SME firms reporting an increase in domestic orders and 33 per cent recording an increase in export orders. Total new orders increased by 17 per cent in the three months to October.

Key findings include:

  • Output increased by eight per cent and is expected to grow by 15 per cent in Q4
  • Total new orders are expected to increase by 26 per cent in the next three months
  • Optimism about the general business situation rose by 35 per cent and optimism about export prospects grew by 23 per cent
  • Employment increased seven per cent and is expected to increase 14 per cent in Q4
  • Compared with the last 12 months, firms plan to spend five per cent more on buildings, 11 per cent more on plant and machinery, 21 per cent more on product and process innovation and 21 per cent more on training.

The manufacturing sector grew by 1.2 per cent between August and September 2013, according to the latest estimate from the Office for National Statistics.

Commenting on the survey's findings, the CBI's director of economics Stephen Gifford said:

"This has been a positive quarter for small and medium-sized manufacturers, with new orders and output both on the rise, and further improvements expected next quarter.

"Optimism about the general business situation has improved at a record pace, and there is evidence of a general thaw in investment intentions for the year ahead."