Page last updated at 00:03 GMT, Monday, 1 March 2010

UK economy's outlook improving, surveys suggest

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Manufacturing is picking up, creating jobs along the way, said the EEF

Surveys from two industry bodies suggest there is growing optimism about the recovery of the UK economy.

The employers' organisation the CBI said service sector firms saw business stabilise in the last three months.

The manufacturers' lobby group the EEF also said its members were seeing improved levels of business.

Revised GDP figures released last week showed the UK economy grew by 0.3% in the last three months of 2009, having previously contracted for six quarters.

The CBI's findings were somewhat split, with an improvement in the consumer sector offset by a poorer picture from business services.

In consumer services, which include hotels and travel, business was at its best level for more than two years.

Both organisations, though, suggest there are still problem areas in the economy.

Job prospects

Ian McCafferty, the CBI's chief economic adviser, said: "Overall, these figures are consistent with our view that the economy is recovering slowly, but that we will have to wait a while before growth picks up."

The CBI said the outlook for employment was weak. Both the professional services and consumer sectors cut staff numbers.

That, though, was offset by the EEF report, which said employment in manufacturing was picking up.

Electronics was one of the strongest performing sectors in recent months, while the motor industry - helped by the car scrappage scheme - also saw an increase in output.

The EEF said all regions of the country saw better conditions, with the biggest swings in the East of England and Yorkshire and Humberside.

It cautioned that a number of risks lay ahead, including uncertainty over public finances and continuing issues over access to finance.

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