UK factory orders improve in February

LONDON Thu Feb 21, 2013 11:02am GMT

LONDON (Reuters) - British factory orders improved more than expected this month, the CBI's monthly industrial trends survey showed on Thursday.

The total order book balance in the Confederation of British Industry's survey rose this month to -14 from -20 in January, beating expectations of a reading of -15 and well above the long-run average of -17.

The export order book balance also rose, albeit from a lower level: to -20 from -29 in January.

"The rebound in manufacturing orders and expectations for output growth provide some further signs of improvement in the outlook for the UK economy," said Anna Leach, the CBI's head of economic analysis.

"However, exports order books are likely to remain relatively weak until global conditions, especially in the euro zone, improve more markedly."

In the last quarter of 2012, lower factory output was a major reason for a contraction in Britain's economy that brought it within sight of its third recession since the 2008 financial crisis.

However, a survey of purchasing managers found that the sector expanded modestly in January.

(Reporting by William Schomberg, writing by Olesya Dmitracova)