U.K. CBI Manufacturing Index Increased Less Than Forecast in May

A U.K. factory index rose less than economists forecast this month, according to a report from the Confederation of British Industry.

A gauge of orders increased to minus 20 from minus 25 in April, which was the lowest reading since October 2010, the London-based business lobby said in a report published today. The median of 12 forecasts in a Bloomberg News survey was for a reading of minus 17 this month. A measure of expectations for output over the next three months dropped 5 points to 18.

Data today showed U.K. retail sales unexpectedly fell in April, led by the biggest drop in food sales for almost two years, indicating continued weakness in the economy. Bank of England Governor Mervyn King, who said last week that a U.K. recovery is now “in sight,” still kept up his minority vote for more stimulus this month, according to minutes of the Monetary Policy Committee’s decision.

“Manufacturers remain optimistic that demand will pick up in the next three months, despite a recent history of disappointed expectations,” Stephen Gifford, CBI director of economics, said in a statement. “With orders improving and the global economy heading for calmer waters, it looks like conditions for manufacturers may be on the up.”

The CBI’s monthly index of factory export orders rose 4 points to minus 17, while a measure of manufacturers’ selling-price expectations for the next quarter declined by 4 points to an eight-month low of 4.

The CBI conducted the survey of 404 manufacturers between April 23 and May 15.

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