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UK factory orders growth hits six-month high in Feb: CBI

[LONDON] British factory orders grew at the fastest pace in six months in February, according to an industry survey on Thursday that pointed to a brighter outlook for the coming months.

The Confederation of British Industry survey's total order book balance rose to +10 this month from +4 in January, comfortably above expectations of +6.

"Our manufacturers have more of a spring in their step this month, regaining some of the momentum lost towards the end of last year," said Rain Newton-Smith, economics director at the CBI. "The drop in oil prices is good news for the manufacturing sector in the UK, bringing with them lower operating costs, but North Sea producers are clearly suffering."

Brent crude oil prices fell to their lowest level in nearly six years in January at just above US$45 a barrel, but have rebounded sharply and hit a two-month high on Tuesday of US$63.

The latest official data showed British industrial output slowed further at the end of last year, hurt by maintenance work on North Sea oil and gas fields.

The CBI survey pointed to a positive outlook for the coming months. Its index measuring expected volume of output for the next three months rose to +25, its highest level since September, from +13 in January.

REUTERS