New manufacturing orders in the UK fell at their fastest pace for three years as fears over a disorderly Brexit quashed confidence in the sector, according to the latest industrial trends survey published by the Confederation of British Industry.
A net 6 per cent of companies told the CBI that orders fell during the third quarter, compared to a positive balance of 15 in the second quarter of the year. This was the lowest balance since October 2015.
The volume of export orders fell even faster, from a positive balance of 21 per cent of companies saying their order books had increased to a net deficit of 8 per cent, also the lowest since October 2015.
“This is a sobering set of figures demanding immediate action at home and abroad” said Rain Newton-Smith, the chief economist at the CBI.
“Aside from much-need progress on domestic policy, the government’s number one priority on Brexit must be securing the Withdrawal Agreement, ushering in a much-needed transition period that will give businesses the breathing space they need,” she said.
Confidence about the future also fell sharply. A net 4 per cent of companies said they expected the volume of new orders to fall over the next three months, the lowest reading on the survey since the depths of the Eurozone crisis in October 2011.