According to the latest CBI Growth Indicator, there was a small improvement in UK private sector economic growth in the three months to February this year.
However, expectations for the quarter ahead are more positive.
The survey of 790 respondents across the manufacturing, retail and service sectors revealed that the pace of growth has increased marginally in the private sector, with a balance of +8% of firms reporting a rise in output, compared with +6% in January.
Growth in the consumer services sector held up well (+21%), as did growth in retail sales (+11%), despite easing to the slowest pace since July last year. However, activity in the business and professional services sector remained flat (+1%) for the second consecutive month in February, the weakest spell since early 2013, while manufacturing saw a levelling off in output (0%) following two months of declines.
For the next three months the outlook is more positive and rose to a strong, above average, showing (+19%).
CBI director of economics, Rain Newton-Smith, said: “The British economy has made a slow start to the year, and growth has remained in the doldrums in February. It’s encouraging that growth in consumer services has held up and manufacturing output has stopped declining, but retailers and business and professional services firms are feeling the pinch.
“With global risks increasing this year following the volatility seen in financial markets, businesses will be keeping a close eye on any possible impact on domestic activity.
“It’s important that the Budget later this month gives business a clear signal that the Government stands behind it in driving growth, by bringing the UK’s business rates system up to date, supporting investment through the capital allowance system and equipping our world-class innovators with the tools they need to compete.”