Picon’s latest UK industrial trends survey forecasts a significant rise in domestic orders for the final quarter of 2002, with improvements expected across all product sectors. It also indicates a slight increase in business optimism for the third consecutive quarter, despite domestic and export order books remaining below normal.

The optimism is attributed to the domestic presses and finishing sector only – all others showing a decrease. Export optimism has decreased and export orders are forecast to fall further. Picon’s Mark Oakes comments: “There is a lot of hesitancy in the market. It continues to suffer from fragile business and consumer confidence and we cannot discount the effects of the on-going threat of international conflict or the weak euro on export.”

Pressure on prices in both domestic and export markets was “relentless” in the third quarter. Profits, although originally expected to improve, were worse than forecast by a considerable margin. Sixty-four per cent of respondents were working below capacity, and capital investment continued to be undertaken only in a bid to increase efficiency.

More information from: Mark Oakes, Picon – TEL: +44 (0)1483 412000. EMAIL: mark@picon.co.uk