[LONDON] British factories expect their export orders in the next three months to be the weakest since the middle of 2012, the Confederation of British Industry said on Thursday.
Expectations for export order volumes fell to show a balance of +1, down from +9 in the last quarterly survey published in October, the CBI's industrial trends survey showed.
"British manufacturers are still heading along the right path: new orders are up, bolstered by domestic demand and more people are getting work in factories across the UK," Rain Newton-Smith, the CBI's director of economics, said.
"Exports have grown modestly, but there is a feeling that we will not see a repeat in the next quarter, especially with the eurozone still treading water and battling deflation," she added.
The European Central Bank is expected to announce later on Thursday that it will start buying government bonds in an attempt to push up demand and prices in order to avoid a potentially damaging bout of deflation.
In January alone, the total order book balance slipped slightly to +4 from +5 in December, narrowly missing a forecast of +5 in a Reuters poll of economists.