LONDON (Reuters) - British small manufacturers reported the fastest rise in new orders since 1995 last month and are more optimistic about the year to come, a survey by the Confederation of British Industry showed on Thursday.
A global economic upturn has lifted British businesses at a time when domestic consumers have been squeezed by a surge in inflation since 2016’s Brexit vote.
The CBI said that 43 percent of the small and medium-sized manufacturers it surveyed reported an increase in total orders compared with 18 percent who reported a fall - the most positive balance since April 1995.
Output growth was similar to mid 2017, while business optimism was the strongest since April 2014.
“Growth is going strong for SME manufacturers, who are reaping the benefits of a lower pound and buoyant global growth - as seen in record expectations for export orders growth,” CBI economist Alpesh Paleja wrote.
However, he added that firms said their margins were still under pressure, with cost pressures high, and that businesses expected to raise prices further.
Consumer price inflation hit its highest level in more than five years in November.
The CBI survey was based on responses from 339 firms surveyed between Dec. 18 and Jan. 11.
Reporting by David Milliken, editing by Andy Bruce