Economic Tendency Survey February 2019

Manufacturing continues to prop up tendency indicator

The Economic Tendency Indicator climbed marginally from 102.0 in January to 102.4 in February and continues to show slightly stronger sentiment than normal in the economy. It is, however, almost exclusively further strong signals from manufacturing that are keeping the indicator above the historical average.

The confidence indicator for the manufacturing industry rebounded somewhat in February after falling for four months and still points to a much stronger situation than normal, thanks to strength in consumer goods, especially non-durables such as foods and pharmaceuticals.

The confidence indicator for the building and civil engineering industry decreased marginally but still suggests a slightly stronger situation than normal. Firms’ view of their current order books is still relatively strong, but their employment plans point to cutbacks.

The confidence indicator for the retail trade fell for a third month in February to below the historical average. The decrease was due to greater dissatisfaction with stocks in food retail and the motor trade, and lower expected sales volumes in specialist retail.

The confidence indicator for the service sector fell for a fifth month to its lowest since April 2013, with firms reporting a deterioration in both their own operations and demand. However, they are relatively happy with current business volumes, and their employment plans suggest an increase in the workforce in the coming months.

The consumer confidence indicator did not move appreciably in February and still shows a pessimistic view of the economy.