Business activity in the East of England has shrunk over five successive months as confidence slumps to a record low, new figures suggest.

The  NatWest East of England PMI Business Activity Index shows output from the region's manufacturing and service sectors unchanged at 47.0 since its September reading. Readings at 50.0 indicate no change while readings above or below that figure show either more output or less.

It found new business received at private sector firms across the East of England contracting sharply during October - the fifth successive month it had shrunk.

East Anglian Daily Times:

Difficult market conditions caused by the cost of living crisis was suppressing client activity - and hitting employment, the study found.

Confidence plunged to a record-low as the threat of recession and growing inflation weighed on output expectations.

Rashel Chowdhury, who sits on the NatWest Midlands & East Regional Board, said a looming recession, an unfavourable exchange rate, inflationary pressures and the cost of living crisis meant that firms reported another round of contraction, with business activity and new orders continuing to shrink.

East Anglian Daily Times:

“After another month of weak performance, firms across the East of England once again revised down their output expectations, which hit a survey-low during October," he said.

“Accordingly, firms recruited additional staff at the weakest pace in 20 months. At the same time, backlogs of work fell for the sixth consecutive month.

"The data consequently suggests that hiring activity will further weaken and we could even see employment fall as the downturn across the region deepens, putting a further squeeze on demand for goods and services.”