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UK factory orders weaken further in February: CBI

[LONDON] British factory orders weakened slightly further in February after a sharper fall in January and manufacturers expect to cut their prices in the coming months, an industry survey showed on Monday.

The Confederation of British Industry's order book balance for manufacturers fell to -17 this month, its lowest level since October, from -15 in January and a touch weaker than its average level since 1995.

The reading was weaker than a median forecast of -12 in a Reuters poll of economists.

British manufacturing has lagged the recovery in much of the rest of the country's economy since 2013 and a slowdown in emerging markets is expected to hold the sector back this year.

Expectations for output in the next three months slipped back to +11 from +14 in January, the CBI survey showed.

Rain Newton-Smith, the CBI's director of economics, said exporters needed help from finance minister George Osborne when he announces his yearly budget statement next month.

"Despite the turbulence in emerging markets, economies such as China still represent a huge opportunity for British industry," she said in a statement.

The CBI wants the government to create a national exports commission, grouping businesses, trade experts and politicians, to advise on how to boost overseas sales around the world.


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