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Economic data this week

Annual Business Survey, Provisional Results for 2012:  The Annual Business Survey (ABS) from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) is focused on top level structural information, but is published by industry. It includes series such as total turnover and capital expenditure and, usefully for us, the metal products and machinery industries are broken down, so it provides an opportunity to look at the relative sizes of these industries and the sub-sectors.

Turnover of manufacturing as a whole in 2012 was £518.4 billion; of this, Metal Products was £33.1bn (6.4%), Machinery £38.9bn (7.5%), Motor Vehicles £55.0bn (10.6%) and Other Transport Equipment was £29.1bn (5.6%) - of the latter, turnover in the Aerospace sector was £22.1bn (76%).  Looking instead at total net capital expenditure gives a slightly different pattern with Metal Products (7.1% of total manufacturing investment) and Motor Vehicles (13.7%) relatively more intensive investing industries;  Machinery (6.9%) has a smaller share in the investment data and Aerospace (4.6% of manufacturing investment and 4.3% of turnover) has a slightly higher investment share.

If you are interested in looking at this in more detail - for example by breaking down the Machinery and Metal Products industries - you can download the reports and data files from the ONS web-site at, but we have already done some of the analysis and you can get a copy of this from Geoff Noon (e-mail at MTA.

Bank of England Agents’ Summary of Business Conditions, November 2013:  One of the inputs into the discussions of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) is a report compiled by the Bank’s Agents who visit companies around the country.  The summary of their report has just been published and it points to manufacturing output edging higher with companies supplying construction products and consumer durables noting some strengthening of activity.  Motor Vehicles and Aerospace were also mentioned in a positive way, although steel production remains weak.

Another area covered by the report is capacity utilisation;  this is reported to be approaching normal levels in manufacturing (and services) with manufacturing companies suggesting that they could respond to higher demand from existing capacity by using contract labour and/or additional shifts.  Alongside this, investment intentions in manufacturing continued to point to a modest growth in capital spending over the next 12 months.  This continues to be driven mainly by replacement or the desire for efficiency gains, but the report does mention an increase in reports of investment to expand capacity in some areas, including the automotive sector.

The Agents’ report is available from this link.