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Brexit and global slowdown hit UK factories in second quarter – BCC

The proportion of British manufacturers reporting a rise in their domestic orders has fallen to its lowest in seven years as Brexit uncertainty and the global slowdown take their toll, a leading employers group said on Monday.

Factories also showed the weakest picture for export orders in four years in the April-June period while a slight pick-up for services firms was not strong enough to make up for a weak start to the year, the British Chambers of Commerce said.

“These results indicate that underlying economic conditions in the UK remain decidedly downbeat,” BCC economist Suren Thiru said.

Britain’s economy began 2019 strongly, but the growth came largely from a surge in stockpiling by manufacturers seeking to protect themselves against the risk of border delays after the original March 29 Brexit deadline.

That deadline has been postponed until Oct. 31, and progress to resolve a stand-off in parliament over how to leave the European Union is on hold while the Conservative Party chooses a new leader who will take over as prime minister.

The BCC’s Quarterly Economic Survey showed price pressures for services firms and manufacturers fell to their lowest level since 2016.

Thiru said the prospect of muted inflation would help consumers and allow the Bank of England to keep interest rates on hold as it waits for the outcome of Britain’s Brexit impasse.

On Sunday another employers group, the Confederation of British Industry, reported that Britain’s private sector had its worst three months in nearly seven years..

Later on Monday, the IHS Markit/CIPS purchasing managers index for the manufacturing sector, which is due to be published at 0830 GMT, is expected to show the factory sector shrank slightly in June.

The BCC survey was based on responses from 6,846 companies – making it the largest of its kind in Britain – and was conducted between May 20 and June 10.

Reporting by William Schomberg, editing by David Milliken

Source: UK Reuters