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UK factory orders index lowest since mid-2013, hurt by weak exports: CBI

[LONDON] British factory orders grew at their weakest pace this month in almost two years, hurt by a slowdown in export demand, the CBI's monthly industrial trends survey showed on Tuesday.

The Confederation of British Industry survey's total order book balance fell to -7 this month, its lowest since July 2013, from -5 in May. However, the index was still above its long-run average of -15.

The export order book balance fell to its lowest since March this year after dropping 10 points on the month. "Output and overall orders are still doing better than average but hopes that export demand would start to drive forward have not yet been fulfilled," Rain Newton-Smith, the CBI's director of economics, said. "Improving momentum in the euro zone is being offset by the effect of the strengthening pound on UK manufacturers' overseas sales and margins. On top of that, the ongoing Greek saga is causing uncertainty." Looking ahead, manufacturers became slightly more optimistic about output volumes in the coming three months, the survey showed.

Britain's overall economic growth slowed sharply in the first quarter of 2015 but is expected to bounce back in the April-June period.