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U.K. Manufacturing Demand Rises for First Time in 12 Years

Manufacturers were in buoyant mood throughout the U.K. as order books swelled across the country, according to the latest Regional Trends Survey published today by the Confederation of British Industry and Experian.

For the first time since February 1995, business confidence improved across all U.K. regions, with Northern Ireland and Wales leading in the confidence stakes compared with three months ago. Sentiment was also particularly high in the East of England, South East & London and Yorkshire & the Humber. The highest balance since 1994 was recorded in the East of England.

Similarly, for the first time since May 1995 total new orders rose for every U.K. region. While modest, the overall increase was the strongest for three years, and two regions -- Wales and Yorkshire & the Humber -- posted their sharpest increase in orders for 12 years.

Most regions have strong expectations for rising orders over the next three months -- led by Wales, the East Midlands and the North East. Despite continued growth in output and orders, manufacturing employment fell at its fastest pace for a year. The sharpest falls were in four regions - the West Midlands, the South West, the South East & London, and East of England.

According to Experian estimates based on the survey results, a further 30,000 jobs will be lost in the sector in the current quarter.

Peter Gutmann of Experian said: "With expectations of strengthening factory output and export demand over the coming months, the survey presents a more encouraging picture of U.K. manufacturing than recent official data. Manufacturers have faced up to a strong pound and an improvement in business confidence reflects the more positive outlook for 2007."