Growth in new business speeds up in May

Volumes of new business in Scotland's private sector grew at the joint-highest rate for nine months last month, although output remained broadly flat, according to new research published today.

Graham Blair says job shedding persists. Picture: Julie Bull
Graham Blair says job shedding persists. Picture: Julie Bull

The Bank of Scotland PMI, which measures the month-on-month change in combined manufacturing and services output, fell to 49.9 in May from 50 in April.

That was despite levels of new work jumping for the second month in a row, driven by Scotland’s manufacturers, who reported the steepest rise in 21 months.

Workforce numbers, however, fell for the sixth successive month, “with a number of panellists linking the decline to the continued downturn in the oil and gas sector”.

Graham Blair, the lender’s regional director of SME banking for Scotland, said, “Scotland’s private sector will be encouraged by the quicker expansion in new business levels during May, even if the rise was at a relatively marginal pace.

“However, other areas of the economy are still struggling as job shedding persists and backlogs decline further. Firms will be looking for a further pick-up in demand for Scottish goods and services over the coming months in a hope to revive business activity.”

A separate study also published today found that foreign direct investment (FDI) into the UK’s financial-services sector last year hit its highest level since 2006. According to the EY attractiveness survey, the sector attracted 94 projects in the year, a third of all financial-services FDI in Europe.