Agents' Summary of Business Conditions - January 2012

We regularly publish a summary of reports compiled by our twelve regional Agents following discussions with at least 700 businesses across the UK every reporting period.
Published on 25 January 2012
  • Consumer spending growth remained weak, leading to aggressive discounting in the run-up to Christmas.
  • The level of activity in the housing market was still generally very subdued.
  • Investment intentions continued to weaken, due in large part to heightened uncertainty about the outlook.
  • Goods exports were still growing at a fairly strong rate, but the pace of expansion had slowed compared with earlier in the year.
  • Manufacturing output for the domestic market continued to grow gradually, but the growth rate had edged down again, with reports becoming more mixed.
  • The growth rate of turnover in business services eased further, reflecting both weaker activity and downward pressure on prices.
  • Contacts in construction reported a slight weakening in the level of activity compared with a year earlier.
  • Firms with relatively strong balance sheets usually had access to credit if required, but small businesses often remained nervous about approaching banks. Many contacts remained focused on the preservation of cash.
  • Employment intentions in the private sector continued to weaken, and suggested that employment was unlikely to grow over the next six months.
  • In the manufacturing sector, capacity utilisation had fallen back a little recently. The margin of spare capacity in the service sector had begun to widen.
  • The pace of growth of total labour costs had declined a little.
  • There had been a further slowing in the annual rate of inflation in raw materials costs.
  • Annual inflation in the price of imports remained elevated. But contacts expected it to fall over the course of the next year.
  • Manufacturing output price inflation was expected to begin to decline, due to slowing in the pace of inflation in input costs. Inflation in business services prices had softened in recent months, reflecting more intense competitive pressures.
  • Annual consumer price inflation remained elevated, but had fallen slightly, due to heavy discounting in both goods and services.


PDFAgents' summary of business conditions - January 2012


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