Wednesday 12th August 2020
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Business activity survey hints at downturn 'nearing an end'

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The business outlook for the East of England over the next 12 months rose to a four month-high in June, as firms increasingly expect higher activity and a return to normality in coming months. A marked slowing in the rate of reduction in activity was “hinting that the private sector downturn is nearing an end,” according to NatWest. The bank’s East of England business activity index – which covers manufacturing and services – rose sharply from 33.4 in May to 49.1 in June. Private sector firms in the East said new order intakes were broadly unchanged from the previous month and order book volumes fell at slower rate than in May. But private firms continued to cut shed jobs and make redundancies, albeit at a slower rate than June.

John Maude, NatWest Midlands & East regional board, said: “The relaxing of Covid-19 measures resulted in a marked easing of decline in private sector activity across the East of England as firms resumed operations. In fact, the rate of reduction in output was marginal, hinting that the private sector downturn is nearing an end. New business inflows were also broadly stable from the previous month, while business confidence rose to a four-month high on hopes that operating conditions will swiftly return to normality in the coming months.”