Greater Manchester Quarterly Economic Survey Q3 2014

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1 Greater Manchester Quarterly Economic Survey Q3 214

2 OVERVIEW Dr John Ashcroft Chief Economist The Manchester Index confirms UK recovery continues into the third quarter as export outlook slows. Results from the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce Quarterly Economic Survey confirm recovery continues into the third quarter of 214 despite a slow down in the outlook for exports. We remain confident in our UK GDP forecast for this year of around 3.1% this year, moderating slightly to 2.8% in 215. The Manchester Index The Manchester Index index moderated from 33.6 in Q2 to 32. in the third quarter largely as a result of the change in outlook for exports. The index remains above the pre-recession average for the period The data within the survey is inline with our projections for growth in the UK economy this year of 3.1%, moderating slightly to 2.8% in Manchester Index GDP % y/y Domestic Demand conditions improve slightly The outlook for home orders and deliveries improved slightly in both the service sector and the manufacturing sector. Export activity - manufacturing order books drop Exports, on the other demonstrated a significant fall in deliveries in both manufacturing and the service sector. Service sector orders also fell but the drop in export manufacturing orders was particularly marked. How can we explain the drop in orders especially in the manufacturing sector? Sterling was relatively unchanged against the dollar at $1.69 compared to the prior quarter albeit up by 8% on prior year ($1.55). Against the Euro, sterling averaged 1.26 in the quarter compared to 1.23 in Q2 and 1.17 last year. Despite the improvement in currency outlook, the main problem interest rate rises or exchange rates. appears to be the deterioration of demand conditions in European markets. This, a result of the slow recovery in Euroland, geopolitical uncertainty in Eastern Europe and the decline in the absence of growth in the Russian economy. Outlook for employment improves significantly The Manchester Employment Index surged to a new high in the quarter to a level of 54.8 compared to a pre-recession high of just 46.5 in 27. The number of businesses trying to recruit in both the manufacturing and service sector increased significantly. The data is in line with the most recent jobs data in the UK. There had been no particular change in the number of businesses experiencing recruitment difficulties despite the rapidly improving jobs market. Confusion on inflation - the QES inflation tracker moved higher The QES inflation tracker moved higher in the quarter. The tracker index bounced back from 15. last quarter to 19. in Q3. This is still down on levels (24.1) at start of year. The latest ONS data for August, confirmed inflation CPI basis slowed to 1.5% as manufacturing output prices fell by -.3%. So what of capacity? The Manchester Investment Index moved higher In both the manufacturing and service sector, capacity utilisation increased significantly. Investment intentions improved in manufacturing, moderating slightly from the Q2 high in the service sector. The Manchester Investment Index moved to a level of 29.2 from The highest level recorded in over six years, since Q4 27. So what are we worried about? So what are businesses worried about? Remarkably little continues to be the overall assessment. We monitor prices, pay, raw materials, inflation, competition, business rates and taxation on a regular basis. No significant problems are apparent at this stage in the recovery. Businesses are confident about prospects for turnover and profits and for the moment appear to be unconcerned about the risk of So what of interest rates? In the USA, the outlook for interest rates remains unchanged from the Q2 survey. Tapering will be completed by October. Rate rises in the USA may follow within six months, possibly by April 215 but June 215 now appears to be the more favoured option. In the UK, in the UK, the MPC vote is now split with two members voting for an increase in rates in August and September. Despite strong domestic demand and the improving jobs market, pay conditions remain weak and the inflation outlook is subdued. We now think rates it is unlikely base rates will rise this year. The MPC will be reluctant to act ahead of the Fed and the relative strength of sterling may stay the hand of the MPC into 215. Summary The Manchester Index confirms the recovery continues in the UK and in the Greater Manchester economy into the third quarter of the year despite a slow down in the outlook for exports. We remain confident in our UK GDP forecast for this year of around 3.1% this year, moderating slightly to 2.8% in 215. Confidence in turnover and profits continues. The outlook for employment continues to improve and our investment index is at the highest levels recorded in over six years. Given the strength of the Manchester Index we remain confident in our UK GDP forecast for this year of 3.1% moderating slightly to 2.8% in 215. We forecast inflation will hover below the 2% target, jobs growth will continue and unemployment will fall and investment will increase. The trade deficit will continue to create concerns especially if the fall in overseas earnings income (manifest in 213) continues.

3 DOMESTIC DEMAND The UK recovery continues Manufacturing UK Sales Services UK Sales A small increase in UK manufacturing demand this quarter with expansion rates close to the peak before the recession in A bounce-back from the slight easing in growth rates last quarter sees the service sector continuing to perform well. The balance for this measure remains comfortably above the pre-recession level. Manufacturing UK Orders Services UK Orders Order books for the manufacturing sector, too, remain strong, despite a very small easing in growth rates. The balance remains, however, commensurate with a strong recovery Expectations for demand in the final quarter of the year also remain buoyant, equalling the all-time record high set in the first quarter of this year.... with little of concern on the horizon

4 INTERNATIONAL DEMAND Export growth slows Manufacturing Export Sales Services Export Sales With the exception of a small uptick in the previous quarter s results, manufacturing export demand has been weakening since the end of last year. At +7%, the balance is similar to conditions around the winter of 212/ Service sector exports have also weakened this quarter, though not as sharply as the manufacturing sector. A balance of +16% continues to indicate moderate expansion. Manufacturing Export Orders Services Export Orders Manufacturing sector export order books have deteriorated sharply into the third quarter with the balance turning negative (indicating a small contraction) for the first time since Q Overseas order book volumes for the service sector have also eased but continue to show growth. Levels remain around the pre-recession average.... likely caused by weak European demand

5 LABOUR MARKET Overall performance remains strong Manufacturing Employment (this quarter) Services Employment (this quarter) Services Employment (next quarter) Manufacturing Employment (next quarter) Employment in the manufacturing sector continues to grow though falls short of the optimism shown last quarter, perhaps driven by weaker than expected export performance Employment in the service sector still shows strong levels of expansion though also falls short of last quarter s expectations. Nonetheless, the balance remains higher than the pre-recession average. Manufacturing Tried to Recruit Manufacturing Recruitment Difficulties Services Tried to Recruit Services Recruitment Difficulties More than six out of ten manufacturing firms responding attempted to recruit in the quarter, with a small reduction in the reported difficulties in filling vacancies In a similar way to the manufacturing sector, there has been an increase in the number of businesses recruiting, rising to over 6%, but difficulties finding the right people continue to cause problems.... but difficulties filling vacancies remain

6 CONFIDENCE & INVESTMENT High confidence levels Manufacturing Confidence (Turnover) Manufacturing Confidence (Profitability) Services Confidence (Turnover) Services Confidence (Profitability) Confidence for the coming year s financial performance remains high with a notable increase in profitability expectations above the pre-recession peak in A slight easing in gross sales expectations for the next 12 months does not cause concern with confidence levels above those pre-28. Manufacturing Investment in Plant & Machinery Manufacturing Investment in Training Services Investment in Training Services Investment in Plant & Machinery Capital investment in productive capacity remains strong this quarter across both primary sectors with a balance of around one-in-five companies increasing investment With recruitment difficulties remaining high, investment in staff becomes more important. Training investment levels remain around the pre-recession average.... continues to deliver investment

7 COSTS & PRICES Inflationary concerns remain low Manufacturing Intentions to Increase Prices Manufacturing Cashflow Services Cashflow Services Intentions to Increase Prices Pricing intentions remain generally weak though elevated on the year for the manufacturing sector, perhaps caused by currency pressures. Overall the outlook remains benign Cashflow improves significantly for the service sector this quarter with a small improvement for the manufacturing sector, though the longer term trend remains positive. Pay Settlements Raw Materials Pay Settlements Raw Materials Finance Costs Other Overheads Finance Costs Other Overheads Key inflationary pressures for the manufacturing sector remain weak overall and have eased further in the quarter, a trend seen clearly in official statistics For the service sector, too, inflationary measures show no cause for concern with even pay settlements showing an easing in the latest data.... and cashflow continues to improve

8 BACKGROUND & METHODOLOGY Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce is the largest Chamber of Commerce in the United Kingdom, providing business support services to members who collectively employ around one third of Greater Manchester s workforce. Recognised as a leader in its field, Greater Manchester Chamber s reputation in government circles has grown locally and nationally. Serving the area of greatest economic intensity outside London and the South East, the Chamber is the primary body for business support, policy, representation and networking. The aim of the Chamber is to support businesses and to help create the best climate for the region to prosper. This is achieved by ensuring that those taking decisions on key issues such as transport, taxation and business regulation hear the voice of our members. The representation of our members views is central to the work of the policy team at the Chamber; these views are gathered in a range of ways including our local councils, policy committees, sector councils, the main Chamber council, focus groups, meetings with politicians, consultations and, of course, this Quarterly Economic Survey (QES). Forming part of the British Chambers of Commerce s national survey, Greater Manchester is one of the single largest contributors to this important body of evidence. As the principal national business survey, and the first to be published in each quarter, its results are closely watched by both HM Treasury and the Bank of England s Monetary Policy Committee. Having been the first survey to call the last two recessions, the data revealed by it is timely, accurate and invaluable for anyone wishing to understand the subtle shifts in the economic climate for businesses in Greater Manchester and beyond. The collection period for this survey was Monday 25 August to Wednesday 17 September 214 inclusive. A total of 599 businesses, together employing 198,78 people responded to the survey. This report has been researched, written and compiled by Dr John Ashcroft, Chief Economist, and Christian Spence, Head of Business Intelligence. If you require any further information about the production or detail of this report, please contact Christian on (161) or Net balance figures referred to throughout this report are determined by subtracting the percentage of businesses reporting a decrease in a factor from the percentage of businesses reporting an increase. The broad manufacturing definition includes the agriculture, energy and water, construction and manufacturing sectors. Copies of this and previous reports can be downloaded from the Chamber s website at with wider economic analysis from GM Chamber at

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