Economic signs ‘look positive’

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MANUFACTURERS have upgraded their forecasts for economic growth amid continued optimism on the jobs front even though business activity remains weak, according to new research.

Reports by the CBI, manufacturers’ organisation EEF and recruitment group Reed pointed to improvements in the economy, although “significant risks” remained.

The CBI said new orders among small to medium-sized manufacturers continued to fall in the three months to July, “disappointing” expectations for growth.

Domestic orders were static and exports fell for a fifth consecutive quarter, with output suffering a slight fall.

Prospects for the quarter ahead were said to be slightly better, with output expected to stabilise and new orders set to contract at a slower pace.

Investment plans for the coming year were “broadly unchanged”, the survey of 390 manufacturers showed.

EEF chief economist Lee Hopley said: “We are now seeing far more positive signs that growth will pick up. With the UK economy beginning to move through the gears and, glimmers of hope in the eurozone, this should translate into more broad-based growth for manufacturing in the next few years.”