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ECONOMIC DATA THIS WEEK

Bank of England Agents Summary of Business Conditions, March 2015:  The latest report from the Bank of England’s Agents suggest that manufacturing output for the domestic market edged lower, but remained positive in the past month.  The strongest growth was in construction products, but automotive and civil aerospace supply chains had also seen steady growth in output.  Falling food prices had reduced demand for tractors and machinery and there were signs that the deferring of oil and gas exploration projects was feeding through to supply chains, although many firms reported healthy order books for 2015.

Manufacturing export growth edged up;  although the euro-zone remains weak, US demand had strengthened further, partly as a result of the strength of the US$.  Capacity utilisation was still at broadly normal levels in manufacturing.  Investment intentions had eased recently, but now look to have stabilised at a level which indicates a moderate increase in capital expenditure over the coming 12 months, often focusing on efficiency rather than capacity growth - the effect of lower oil prices is being seen in the investment plans of this sector.

You can get the summary from the Bank of England web-site at http://www.bankofengland.co.uk/publications/Pages/agentssummary/2015/mar... or on request from MTA.

CECIMO Statistical Toolbox, March 2015:  The latest edition of the CECIMO Toolbox features the usual round-up of general economic data on Europe, as well as CECIMO’s own MT-IX - this is an index of share prices for publically quoted companies in the machine tool sector.  This index is now above the level it reached before the recession on both the absolute level and the 12-month moving average.

This edition also includes a summary of the quarterly forecast for machine tool manufacturers’ orders in Europe (this is a single forecast with no breakdown by country);  for various reasons, but partly because orders in the 4th quarter of 2014 were better than had been predicted, but the confidence indicators and PMI readings have not changed much, the forecast has been downgraded slightly.  The prediction is for a fall of -2% in orders during 2015, before picking up in 2016, although there is no mention in this forecast of the risks, such as the possibility of Greece leaving the euro-zone, or their implications.

You can download the CECIMO Statistical Bulletin from their web-site at www.cecimo.eu or get it on request from MTA;  if you would like the charts and notes from the manufacturers’ orders forecast, please contact Geoff Noon (e-mail:  gnoon@mta.org.uk) at MTA.