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Private sector growth slows, but ‘will pick up’

Rain Newton-SmithPrivate sector growth in the UK slowed, coming to a near halt, in the three months to March, but the outlook remains firmly positive, according to the latest CBI Growth Indicator.

The survey of 767 respondents across the manufacturing, distribution and service sectors showed the pace of growth fell to its slowest rate since May 2013, with a balance of +2% of firms reporting a rise in output, compared with +8% in February.

But firms’ expectations point to a recovery in growth for the next three months, standing at +19%, higher than the long-run average.

A further drop in output in the manufacturing sector, and a fall in consumer services output, which has had a strong showing recently, were the main reasons behind the overall slowing in growth. Meanwhile, performance in the retail and business & professional services sectors held up better.

Rain Newton-Smith (pictured), CBI director of economics, said: “The gears of growth stuttered in March, with manufacturing and consumer services having a tough time. Retail and professional services firms have fared better though, and it’s encouraging that the private sector expects growth to recover over the next quarter.

“Looking ahead, we expect strong domestic demand to power growth forward. Firms will need to be vigilant in the face of significant risks on the radar though, from uncertainty ahead of the EU referendum to volatility in financial markets.”

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