U.K. Manufacturing Confidence Rises to Highest in Four Decades

U.K. manufacturing confidence rose to the highest in more than four decades as producers became more optimistic on the outlook for exports and hiring, according to the Confederation of British Industry.

A quarterly index of manufacturers’ sentiment surged to 33 in April from 21 in January, the London-based lobby group said today. That’s the strongest reading since April 1973. A gauge of export sentiment jumped to 27 from 8, the highest result in two years.

Bank of England policy makers said today that the U.K. recovery is strengthening and estimated the economy may grow 1 percent in both the first and second quarters of the year. They also said there are signs of a “modest rebalancing toward investment.”

“There are still bumps in the road ahead, with only a tepid recovery likely in the euro zone, the pound creeping higher and a rapidly evolving situation in Ukraine,” said Katja Hall, CBI chief policy director. “However, expectations for growth in the coming three months are positive and manufacturers plan to significantly ramp up investment.”

The report showed that a gauge of new orders at factories advanced to 21 in April from 13 in January, the highest reading since 1995. Investment intentions for spending on plant and machinery in the year ahead rose to the strongest since 1997.

A monthly measure of factory orders for April fell to minus 1 from 6 in March and a gauge of export orders increased to minus 3 from minus 10.

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