LONDON (Reuters) - British factories expect the strongest rise in output over the next three months since last April, the CBI’s March industrial trends survey showed on Thursday.
The output expectations balance in the Confederation of British Industry survey rose to +22 from +5 in February, driven in particular by optimism among food, drink and tobacco and mechanical engineering manufacturers.
The total order book balance fell this month to -15 from -14 in February, above expectations of a reading of -17.
“Manufactures appear more optimistic about the next few months than the official figures and commentary would suggest, with sharp rises in output expected right across the sector,” said Stephen Gifford, the CBI’s director of economics.
“There was some pick-up in exports, possibly helped by the weak pound,” he added.
The survey contrasts with the latest official data that showed British manufacturing output fell in January at the fastest pace since June, confounding forecasts for a broadly steady reading.
Moreover, a February survey of purchasing managers also revealed an unexpected contraction in the manufacturing sector.
Reporting by Christina Fincher, writing by Olesya Dmitracova