How do manufacturers see the next twelve months?

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There is some gloomy economic news this morning, with the Item club saying that the UK may have already slipped back into recession.

And unfortunately the executives surveyed in our Executive Survey 2012 report, published today, are also not positive on the UK's economic prospects. Just over a fifth believe economic conditions in the UK economy in 2012 will be better than in 2011, but just under a half expect conditions to deteriorate. And unfortunately this spread of views is shared by firms of all sizes and across all industry sectors.

Manufacturing executives also indicated some concerns around how the situation across their own industry would evolve in the next 12 months. A balance of 11% of companies expects conditions in industry to be more difficult in 2012 compared with 2011. Certainly EEF's fourth quarter Business Trends Survey indicated expectations of a weak start to the year as forward looking balances on output and orders dipped into negative territory for the first time in more than two years. However, there is some considerable variation across different sectors.

This view of the UK's growth prospects together with dampened EU growth and the positive prospects for emerging economies means that nearly half of firms in our survey say that increasing demand for products in emerging markets will be an area of growth for them in the year ahead. I'll be blogging about this later on today and discuss other areas of the report findings – firm level performance, risks to growth – later on this week.

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Senior Policy Researcher

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