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Weak orders hit activity but most firms hopeful of rebound

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Private sector activity fell sharply in the East of England in November as new business weakened and Brexit uncertainty lingered but employment grew marginally and the majority of firms in the region still expect output to rise over the coming 12 months, according to a key survey of purchasing managers.

The NatWest East of England business activity index fell from 50.2 in October to 47.3 in November, the lowest figure since mid-2012. As order books fell, companies continued to work through backlogs and  outstanding business fell for the thirteenth month running. ‘Positive sentiment’ slipped to its lowest level since August. But some 59 per cent of firms in the region expect activity to rise over the next 12 months based on hopes of strong demand, improved competitiveness and new markets.

John Maude, NatWest Midlands & East regional board, said: “Brexit remains a key issue, with panellists linking political uncertainty to the falls in both output and order book volumes. Likewise, uncertainty continued to cloud firms’ output expectations in November, with the level of positive sentiment slipping to the third-lowest since the series began in 2012.”

Last Updated ( Monday, 09 December 2019 10:12 )