UK factories suffer worst quarter on record, CBI says

LONDON (Reuters) - British industrial output recorded its biggest quarterly fall on record during the three months to June as COVID-19 heavily disrupted operations, and a further decline is likely in the months to come, a survey showed on Monday.

The Confederation of British Industry’s headline industrial orders measure inched up to -58 in June from May’s 38-year low of -62, but remained far below its pre-COVID level, while export orders fell by the most since records began in 1977 at -79.

The CBI’s measure of industrial output over the past three months fell to its lowest since that measure started in July 1975, sinking to -57 from -54.

“The COVID-19 crisis has been hugely challenging for the manufacturing sector, and these figures reflect the tough circumstances faced by firms across the country,” said Tom Crotty, group director of chemicals producer INEOS and chair of the CBI’s manufacturing council.

Official data for April showed an historic 28.5% year-on-year fall in factory output.

Manufacturers are somewhat less pessimistic about the next three months, with output expectations rising to -30 from -49, despite the weaker demand from overseas, though this is well below the series’ long-run average of +8.

The CBI said the steepest falls in production came in the automotive, mechanical engineering and metals sectors.

Reporting by David Milliken, editing by Estelle Shirbon and Stephen Addison