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Business Monitor for October 2017
(90 responses, 63% exporters)

Comments on October Monitor Data

This month it is particularly important to note: The Monitor records only the number/share of companies, not the size of orders or number of jobs etc.


  • The positive trend is maintained through October.
  • Outlook for the remainder of the year appears positive
  • The prospecting news remains favourable with the proportion of 'Downers' falling back to single figures again.
  • This strong trend in enquiry increases still not being converted into orders at a similar speed.
  • So the 'Downers' order share has remained stubbornly around 25% or higher since May.
  • There's little or no change in job vacancies which remain high.
  • This month there's been a marked increase in the share of firms reporting investment in skills, but we are still some way back from where the Monitor was in 2016 on this measure.
  • Access to finance, some slight improvement maybe.
  • Confidence remains positive, even firmly so as the three year trend shows.

Statistical comparisons


  • Prospecting balances improved in October by 11 points for UK business (to +37) and 7 points on exports (+27)
    • 2017 3-month running average balances       UK +26         Export +21
    • 2016 3-month running average balances       UK +23         Export +16
    • 2015 3-month running average balances       UK -1             Export -6
  • 'Downers' share of reports fell back to single numbers (9% on UK business and 6% on exports).


  • Order balances were +21 for UK business and +15 on exports.
  • So they were on an increasing trend for UK and slightly weaker for exports
    • 2017 3-month running average balances            UK +7           Export +3
    • 2016 3-month running average balances            UK +4           Export +5
    • 2015 3-month running average balances            UK -1            Export -7
  • The worrying trend of the last five months of a quarter or more reporting orders lower continues into Q4.


  • Job opportunities remain plentiful with the monthly balance around +36.
  • Far more companies are reporting job opportunities than the last two years
    • 2017 3-month running average balances            +36
    • 2016 3-month running average balances            +13
    • 2015 3-month running average balances            +8


  • Share of firms reporting investing in all areas higher; skills investment picks up this month, but running three-month average weak compared with last year
    • 2017 3-month running average balances            Investing +42           Skills +15
    • 2016 3-month running average balances            Investing +33           Skills +24
    • 2015 3-month running average balances            Investing +36           Skills +14

Access to Finance:

  • Small positive or little change


  • Confidence has run positive for over 14 Monitor months (since August 2016).
    • 2017 3-month running average balances +26             of which 'Downers' -9
    • 2016 3-month running average balances +21             of which 'Downers' -14
    • 2015 3-month running average balances -8                of which 'Downers' -27
  • The current balances have been on a strengthening trend, so that the Q3 average this year at +22 is better than double the Q3 2016 level (+9)

The Monitor (Click graphs for larger image and data)


  • choice of statements in full:
    1. Developing projects but not committing to them
    2. Investing in all areas of the business


Access to Finance

Monthly Changes in Confidence