THE latest Quarterly Economic Survey report for the Black Country paints a bleak picture of the manufacturing sector.

Nevertheless more than half of manufacturing and two-thirds of service sector responses expect turnover to increase over the next 12 months.

But expectations that profitability will improve over the next 12 months amongst manufacturers has dropped by half since its peak at the end of 2013.

Commenting on the results, Black Country Chamber of Commerce president Ninder Johal said:  “At the start of 2014 we were reporting high levels of optimism, growth and sales. It is disappointing to see exports decline so quickly.

“I understand that the European and Russian markets have collapsed for different reasons and that there is a slowdown in China.

“Nevertheless, Brand Britain still counts across the world and our Export Expert programme will help identify new opportunities.

“These results suggest that any economic recovery being reported is not being driven by business investment. We have seen the dangers of consumer-led bubbles in the past and yet newspaper reports suggest that underneath the rhetoric of deficit reduction and high growth lies a very dangerous set of assumptions behind how far consumers are prepared to go to supplement their falling standards of living.