According to the Q4 EEF/BDO Manufacturing Outlook survey, while output and orders remain positive there has been a clear moderation in the strength of balances throughout the course of 2018, a trend which has accelerated in the final quarter.
2018 Q4 Headlines
There has been a clear divergence in the last quarter between domestic and export orders, with the domestic picture backing anecdotal evidence that companies are putting in plans to increase inventory levels ahead of the UK’s exit from the EU. In contrast exports which have boosted the manufacturing sector over the last few years appearing to hit the brakes.
The regional picture mostly mirrors that of the national, with almost all regions showing positive output balances over the past three months (the North East being the one exception). However, much like the national picture, these positive figures have to be taken in the context of the previous quarter, with six out of the ten regions seeing their output balances dropping compared to last quarter. Business confidence remains positive for all regions, however, only three regions see an improvement on q3.
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