The Q4 2009 results show improvements in most key national balances, particularly for manufacturing. Progress, however, has been generally weaker than in Q3 and, overall, the results are disappointing. Nevertheless, there are positive features, notably
strong increases in the manufacturing balances for exports and employment.

The Q4 results support the view that the economy is on the brink of leaving recession, but they do not provide conclusive evidence of recovery. Confidence balances mostly increased, suggesting that businesses are resilient, but there was a worrying fall in manufacturers’ profitability confidence. Some key balances are still negative in both sectors. In manufacturing, home orders, employment
expectations, and investment in plant & machinery are in negative territory. The service sector, performing worse than manufacturing, showed balances were negative for home sales and orders, employment, cashflow, and investment in plant and machinery.