March 20, 2019 / 11:18 AM / a month ago

UK factory order growth slows ahead of Brexit - CBI

FILE PHOTO - An employee is seen working at the new production facility for Electric motor manufacturer YASA in Oxford, Britain, February 1, 2018. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

LONDON, (Reuters) - British factory order growth slowed in March as businesses fretted over Brexit, though the outlook for exports and future production growth was brighter, the Confederation of British Industry said on Wednesday.

The CBI said its monthly industrial orders balance dropped to +1 this month from February’s reading of +6, a slightly larger drop than the decline to +2 forecast in a Reuters poll of economists.

Export orders picked up, however, rising to +8 from +1, while expectations for output over the next three months edged down to +7 from +8.

Britain’s parliament has so far failed to approve the deal that Prime Minister Theresa May negotiated with Brussels, raising the prospect of an abrupt exit from the bloc next week or a delayed departure.

The CBI said this uncertainty was hurting business.

“The manufacturing sector has slowed again this month and is now barely growing,” CBI economist Anna Leach said.

“Brexit uncertainty is one of the biggest threats to growth in the UK manufacturing sector – both current and future – as firms prioritise stockpiling goods over investing in the future of their business,” she added.

Reporting by David Milliken, editing by William Schomberg

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