British factory orders failed to grow in March as foreign demand eased, survey data from the Confederation of British Industry showed on Monday.
The total order book balance dropped to zero from +10 in February. Economists had expected a balance figure of 9. However, the figure was well above the average of -16 percent.
Ten percent of businesses reported above normal export order book levels, while 35 percent said they were below normal, leading to a balance of -26 percent, weakening from February’s six-month high. That was below the average of -20 percent.
That said, business expect output growth in the coming quarter. Thirty-four percent predicted growth, while 12 percent reported a decline, resulting in a balance of +22 percent. In February, the balance was +25 percent.
The survey was conducted among 468 manufacturers.
“Sluggish export performance seems to be a headache that won’t go away, with a still subdued Eurozone and headwinds from a stronger pound. But measures in the Budget to support exporters should be a welcome boost for the sector’s longer-term prospects,” Rain Newton-Smith, CBI Director of Economics, said.
“With emerging markets facing a tough time and uncertainty continuing to hang over the Eurozone, firms are having to work even harder for opportunities to sell their products and services around the world.”
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