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ECONOMIC DATA THIS WEEK

CBI Industrial Trends Survey, December 2018:  The latest edition of the CBI Industrial Trends Survey (ITS) showed a further acceleration in output growth in the 3 months to December and is at its fastest since July.  Output expanded in 15 of the 17 sub-sectors covered by the ITS with, encouragingly, the fastest growing of these including Mechanical Engineering (alongside Food & Drink and Chemicals).  However, respondents to the ITS do expect output to slow somewhat over the next 3 months although this may just reflect the holiday period.

Total order books, although slightly lower than in November, remain well above their long-run average level and there was a significant strengthening of export orders compared to November;  the latter was at its highest since January.

You can read the CBI Press Release on the survey results on their web-site at www.cbi.org.uk/news (19 December) or you can request it from MTA (we also have a brief summary of the survey results).

UK Production data, 2016 and 2017:  The Office for National Statistics (ONS) recently released some revised figures for 2016 and 2017 from the ProdCom series.  This tracks sales of UK made goods;  we use this as a proxy for “production” (technically, goods are not counted until sold, so stocks made by manufacturers don’t count until they leave the factory.

For the three elements of the manufacturing technology industry which we cover in our Basic Facts booklet - Machine Tools, Cutting Tools and Tool/Work-Holding Equipment - we have updated these tables and you can download the revised data sheet from the MTA web-site at https://www.mta.org.uk/policy/key-messages.

There were only small changes, especially for 2017.  For 2016, the UK production data for both machine tools and tool/work-holding equipment has been revised upwards, with only a marginal change for cutting tools.  With the export and import data unchanged, this means that our “official” estimate of the UK market size has also been revised up a little.

The next data release will be the 2018 export/import figures which will feature in the 2019 edition of Basic Facts, with the parallel production figures likely to be available around the middle of the year.

USMTO and US CTMR, October 2018:  The US Manufacturing Technology Orders (USMTO) programme tracks orders in the US market, based on the reports from participants.  In the ten months of 2018, manufacturing technology orders are reported to be running +23.6% higher than in the same period of 2017 (January to October);  the rolling 12-month trend (the total for the past 12 months compared to the previous 12-month rolling total) is up by +19.7%.

These were helped by a bumper August and an IMTS boosted September but, although October was down on both of those months, it was still a little ahead of a year earlier.  For confidentiality reasons, we don’t have the figures for all of the regions, but the results for metal cutting machines (by far the largest part of the market covered by the USMTO) are published;  they show double-digit growth in all six regions ranging from +11% in the North-Central-East area up to +35% in the South-East area.

The US Cutting Tool Market Report (CTMR) is similar in concept, although it tracks sales rather than orders (the gap between the two is less important for tooling than it is for machinery).  This is showing growth of +12.8% in the first 10 months of 2018 (compared with January to October 2017) and the 12-month rolling trend is at +12.4%.  There is no regional breakdown in this report.

You can download the press release for the USMTO from the AMT web-site at www.amtonline.org, with the CTMR release published on the USCTI web-site at www.uscti.com;  alternatively, you can request either or both releases from MTA and we can make sure you get them when they are published each month.

UK Trade by Industry, 3rd Quarter 2018:  An analysis of the UK trade data by industry compiled by the ONS shows that while exports of all manufactured goods were +2.7% higher than in the 2nd period of this year and +1.8% up on the level of a year earlier, the engineering industries out-performed other sectors with growth of +5.9% and +2.8% respectively.  On a rolling 4-quarter basis, manufacturing exports grew by +2.9% and engineering goods, which accounted for 52% of total manufacturing exports, grew by +3.9%.

For imports, we see the reverse pattern, with manufacturing exports growing by +2.0% over the previous quarter and by +1.7% over a year earlier, while imports of the engineering industries grew by +1.9% and +0.1% respectively.  For the rolling 4-quarter trend, the percentage changes for both groups were, coincidentally, the same as for the growth over a year earlier;  on this basis, engineering goods accounted for 48% of the total.

At -£10.7 billion, the engineering industries accounted for about one-third of the total trade deficit of -£31.1 billion for manufacturing products in the 3rd quarter of 2018.  The only UK industry to have a trade surplus is Aerospace – this was valued at +£2.2 billion for the 3rd quarter.  Among the industries of most interest to MTA members, the trade deficits range from only -£0.4 billion (£400 million) for Machinery, through -£1.4 billion for Metal Products to -£1.6 billion for the Automotive industry.  However, the largest deficit in the Engineering sector is the -£6.6 billion recorded by the Computers, Electronics and Optical Instruments industry.

You can get the data sets from the ONS web-site at www.ons.gov.uk/releasecalendar (14 December)