UK manufacturing growth cools as export orders slip: EEF

Reuters
Workers inspect components on the fuel inlet production facility in Foston
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Workers inspect components on the fuel inlet production facility at Futaba Industrial in Foston, central England January 21, 2014. REUTERS/Darren Staples

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's main manufacturing trade association trimmed its growth forecast for 2014 on Monday after its members reported the first fall in export orders since early 2013.

The EEF association said its quarterly survey of members showed slowing growth in output and new business over the last three months, and cut its forecast for factory output growth in 2014 to 3.3 percent from 3.5 percent.

This would still be the sector's fastest expansion since 2010, when output rebounded by 4.2 percent after slumping more than 10 percent in 2009.

But the forecast downgrade adds to signs that the British economy may lose some pace in the second half of this year.

The EEF said that with the euro zone economy stagnating, sterling strong and political risks on the rise, the picture for demand was now more uncertain than for some time, though the overall picture remained positive.

"We're seeing manufacturers continue to recruit for skilled jobs and increase their plans to invest in the coming year - exactly what the UK economy still needs for balanced growth," said Lee Hopley, the EEF's chief economist.

"However, there are clearly increasing downside risks overseas which could make sustaining strong growth and particularly stronger exports more challenging going forward."

The latest purchasing managers' index for Britain's manufacturing sector, a closely watched gauge of industrial activity, is due at 0830 GMT. Economists polled by Reuters expect growth slowed slightly in August from July.

The EEF survey was conducted between July 30 and Aug. 20, with responses from 298 companies.

(Reporting by Andy Bruce; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

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