Scottish private sector output expands, says RBS survey

December 9, 2019 by No Comments


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Scottish private sector output grew last month for the first time since August, according to a regular survey.

Service-providing firms reported the fastest expansion for the past six months, outweighing a sharp fall in output from manufacturers.

Manufacturers also recorded a drop in order book volumes for the 15th consecutive month.

The overall rise was linked to stronger demand in the latest RBS Purchasing Managers Index (PMI).

RBS said the November data highlighted “some positive signs” for the Scottish private sector, including a “moderate” increase in staffing levels after four months of decline.

Its index – which measures manufacturing and service sector output – posted 50.9 last month, up from 49.6 in October.

Any figure above 50 suggests expansion.

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The survey indicated that “overall demand conditions” rebounded in November, with incoming new business rising following three successive monthly falls.

The rise in Scotland was the second-fastest of the 12 monitored UK areas, behind only London.

That said, the increase was relatively “subdued”, with some respondents noting that “continued uncertainty” had weighed on growth.

On a positive note, the November data indicated improved business confidence towards activity over the next 12 months.

‘Continued uncertainty’

RBS Scotland Board chairman Malcolm Buchanan said: “Nevertheless, uncertainty continued to subdue demand, with client hesitancy reportedly weighing heavily on both output and activity.

“A clearer outlook is required to boost demand and for the Scottish private sector to gain further momentum in the closing stages of the year.”

Revised figures recently released by the Scottish government indicated that Scotland’s economy shrank slightly less between April and June than first thought.

They showed output (GDP) contracted by 0.2% over that period instead of 0.3% as initially predicted.

Construction saw a sharp reduction in activity, while the service sector grew only slightly.