Increased optimism among converting industry suppliers is apparent in Picon's final quarterly survey of 2001. It also shows increased support for UK membership of the single currency.

Data for the last three months of the year shows a distinct increase in optimism, both at home and abroad. The 19 per cent of “more optimistic” respondents com- pares with just two per cent in the third quarter, and is the highest figure since the final quarter of 2000. A similar, though less dramatic, turnaround is also seen on the export front, where 16 per cent are more optimistic – five per cent up on the third quarter.

However, the optimism has yet to translate into healthier order books, says Picon. These are below normal, at 63 per cent of domestic manufacture and 62 per cent of exporters (60 and 44 per cent, third quarter).

Looking ahead to the current quarter, a healthy 30 per cent expect improved orders at home, and 18 per cent on the export front.

Picon’s Euro poll revealed 37 per cent now in favour of joining immediately, compared with 29 per cent in the third quarter.